DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – The owner of three dogs stolen from a truck left running is offering a reward to anyone who can help police catch the crook.
Surveillance video caught the alleged suspect stealing the truck from outside of Vic’s Liquor store around 5 p.m. Sunday. The store is located near 35th Avenue and Quebec Street in Denver’s Stapleton neighborhood.
Thanks to the help of some watchful citizens, the stolen dogs were found a day later. The victim’s truck and the suspect, however, are still missing.
Paul Villella, owner of Vic’s Liquor, said that he went inside the store just long enough to unload a few boxes of product. By the time he came back outside, his truck and his dogs were gone.
Store surveillance cameras captured video of a man walking into the store and buying a beer. When the man left, he got out of a U-Haul pickup truck and jumped into the owner’s running truck, taking off with the three dogs inside.
Villella was up all night searching for them.
“It was a feeling of despair,” Villella said.
Around 7 a.m., a jogger found Villella’s dog Victor over five miles away roaming Cheesman Park.
“When they found Vic, I thought, ‘There’s some hope,’” Villella said. “At least (the thief) let him go.”
His hope turned into relief when someone sent him a photo of his other two dogs and said that the missing Jack Russel terrier mix and Maltese had shown up safe on a porch in the same neighborhood.
“I feel really bad because of a stupid mistake I made; that I gave someone the opportunity to steal my truck,” Villella said. “And I don’t even care about the truck. But the idea that I potentially hurt my animals because of it, that’s something I’m so relieved (that they were found).”
Villella is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest.
Police said that investigators are following up on those leads.
A veterinarian checked the dogs out and although they were a little shaken up, they appeared to be doing just fine.