Fairbanks man recovers stolen car, dog

Posted: Tuesday, December 26, 2000

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The owner of an 11-year-old boxer had some kind words for the thief after the dog -- stolen along with the man's car -- was recovered a day later.

''Whoever stole him had some shred of decency because they left him in the car and they left it running,'' said Hap Ryder.

Ryder has been manager of the Big I, a downtown bar, for more than 25 years. On Friday night, Ryder loaned his car to a friend to run an errand. He told the borrower to leave it unlocked and running because he intended to depart shortly after the person got back.

When he left the bar, his 1992 silver Ford Escort station wagon and his dog, Red, were gone.

Ryder, who offered a $500 cash reward for the return of his dog, said he couldn't sleep Friday night because he was worried Red would be put out of the car into the cold and become hypothermic. Fairbanks reached a low of 12 degrees below zero Saturday.

''I just stayed on the couch with the phone nearby,'' Ryder said. ''The house was empty without him.

A Yellow Eagle cab driver spotted the vehicle at about 11 a.m. Saturday at a mall four miles away.

''I'm so pleased just to have him back,'' Ryder said. ''It's a nice Christmas present.''

Fairbanks city police Officer Stewart Lewis said the car theft was probably a crime of opportunity.

''They take the car to get across town and they leave it. They're not necessarily looking to deprive the person,'' he said.

He recommends motorists lock their idling cars or don't let them idle unsupervised.

''A spare key only costs $1.55,'' he said. ''Someone who really wants to steal your car will steal it. It's how easy you want to make it for them.''

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