A van thief at Buena Vista Park may not have realized the cargo of the vehicle they were swiping, as the Mercedes Sprinter was a dog-walking van with eight dogs in back, but the dog-napping was foiled within three hours.
It was a ruff night Tuesday for a San Francisco dog-walking service called No Nonsense Dog Walking, when the dog walker was dropping off one of her client's dogs at around 4 p.m. near Buena Vista Park at Ashbury Street and Upper Terrace. While she was returning that dog to its owner, a vehicle thief broke into the van and stole it — with eight other dogs still in the van.
STOLEN DOGS: Officers looking for white Mercedes Sprinter van w/front plate AJOP154, rear plate 73119U2, with 8 dogs inside, taken from Ashbury Terrace & Upper Terrace pic.twitter.com/gTLFP0ILUd— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 25, 2023
Did the van thief even know there were eight dogs inside? We hope to shed some light on that in the future, but for now, we at least know that the van and all eight dogs were recovered less than three hours after the thief stole the van.
@SFPD @SFPDPark officers recovered dogs and stolen vehicle in the Mission District. Owners and their canine companions have been reunited. Thank you for all those who assisted!— Officer Rueca (@OfficerRueca) January 25, 2023
KTVU provides the full dog-walking van theft story in the segment below. “Police sent out a citywide alert with the van description and license plate number at around 5:30 p.m.,” that station reports. “The owners of the dogs in the van, friends, and the van owner scoured the city until one of the owners spotted the stolen vehicle at 18th and Collingwood streets in the Castro at around 6:30 p.m.”
UPDATE: 8 dogs stolen in Ashbury Heights theft of dogwalker's van have been reunited with their families, after one of the owners spotted the stolen van abandoned at 18th & Collingwood, per @SFPD @SFPDPark pic.twitter.com/ojQYhd7N7u— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) January 25, 2023
But that three hours of anxiety was obviously difficult for the dog owners. “Did they release all the dogs in a park somewhere? Were they going to take the dogs and sell them or give them away?” one dog owner Terry Friedlander asked, speaking to KTVU. “It was incredibly frustrating, because no dog had a tracker on to be able to find the dog quickly. So we were just beside ourselves.”
SFPD currently has no suspects or arrests in the matter. If you have any information on this incident, you’re asked to call the SFPD tip line at 415-575-4444, or text a tip to TIP411 and begin the message with “SFPD.” Tipsters can remain anonymous.
Related: Prosecutors: French Bulldog Theft In South San Francisco Was Arranged By Ex-Girlfriend With Help From Gang Members [SFist]
Image: hannah15198 via Unsplash