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Police find stolen box truck owned by Colorado Pet Pantry

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The Colorado Pet Pantry that delivers 1.2 million pounds of donated pet food a year to needy dogs and cats around the state soon may be back to full speed after Parker Police on Wednesday found a much-needed stolen delivery truck.

It was abandoned, out near homes in the 19,000 block of Cottonwood Drive, where a resident notified police, Parker Police Department spokesman Josh Hans confirmed. A tow truck was pulling the vehicle — a white-and-gray 1997 GMC Savana box truck that can hold 6,000 pounds of pet food — toward a Denver Poice facility for fingerprinting.

“This is good. I was wondering if finding it would even be possible. Now I want to see what kind of condition it is in,” said Eileen Lambert, director of the Pet Pantry, a Bouder-based nonprofit.

The Pet Pantry’s purpose since 2013 has been keeping wanted pets out of shelters by helping owners who love them but cannot afford food. The pet food donated from grocery stores, pet stores, a Purina plant, and others each year helps provide an estimated 6.9 million meals for dogs and cats whose owners are hard-pressed to keep their animals.

But just as Pet Pantry directors were celebrating its tenth anniversary last week, thieves hopped a fence at a storage yard in south Denver near Englewood and hot-wired their delivery truck. “And then, when they got to the gate, they couldn’t get out. It is a secure storage facility. So they crashed the truck through the gate,” Lambert said.

Denver Police responded just after midnight last Friday, and a detective was assigned to investigate the incident as a burglary and theft.

Denver police officials on Wednesday said the case is still under investigation. “No arrests have been made. … Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers,” officials said in an emailed response to queries.

Since the theft, Pet Pantry has relied on a rented U-haul truck in a scramble to handle as many deliveries as possible from donors to food banks, mostly along Colorado’s urban Front Range. That’s been Pet Pantry’s distribution strategy.

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