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Dogs who were in stolen vehicle found, but search for vehicle, suspect ongoing

Koda and Willow have been returned to their owners. Submitted photo

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. -- Two dogs stolen with a vehicle on Sunday night were returned to their owners on Monday evening after the Maplewood couple stormed social media and news outlets earlier in the day.

Hillary Volkman, one of the owners, said Koda and Willow found their way home with help from a sister of the person who is believed to have perpetrated the crime. Maplewood police were still searching for the suspect as well as the stolen vehicle on Tuesday.

The vehicle theft and dognapping occurred after the dog owners went into a Holiday gas station around 6:20 p.m. Sunday in the northwest Twin Cities suburb, authorities said. They left their car idling and the keys in the ignition to keep Koda and Willow warm. While the owners were in the Holiday, the suspect walked out of the gas station, noticed the vehicle running, got inside and drove off.

The car is a 2013 black Ford Fusion with Minnesota license plate number 2DG309. The driver’s side rear bumper is damaged from a previous accident, police said.

The suspect arrived in a dark Chrysler 200 with no front license plate. A driver in that vehicle followed the suspect out of the parking lot, according to police.

Leaving an unattended car running is illegal. Last year, Maplewood reported a steep increase in car thefts, many of which were left running and unattended.