South Bend police officer reunites with man she saved as a little boy

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Back in 1998, a little three-year-old boy went missing from a troubled home. That Hispanic little boy, who couldn’t speak English yet, now goes by the name Roberto Theiss and he made a special trip to thank the police officer who found him.

Theiss went missing one cold night 24 years ago. He remembers wandering away from his family’s home looking for his older brother.

“I do remember being on the side of the road and then from there I remember being picked up by a police officer,” Theiss said. “The police officer took me to Taco Bell as a kid, and I remember it was like the best moment of my life.”

That police officer was Ofc. Anne Hayes, who is now a 30-year veteran of the police force in South Bend. Theiss, who will soon be deployed with the Indiana National Guard, wanted to come back on Wednesday during Hayes’ roll call and thank her and show her how her act of doing her job set him on the right path in life.

Shortly after he was found by Hayes, Theiss was placed in and out of foster care.

“I met my foster parents when I was four and they came over after that incident,” said Theiss. “We went back and forth for six years where I would stay six months of them and then six months with my biological family until 10 years old when I was adopted.”

Theiss presented Hayes with a bouquet of flowers.

“I don’t know if massively surprised is the right word or best word,” Hayes said of Theiss’ return. “We do this like every day and you never hear what happens to the kids… and I’m just happy to find out that he did so well and wanted to see me, which is a big surprise too.”

Theiss said it was Hayes who inspired him to join the National Guard. He’s set to deploy in a few weeks.

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