Keep your doors locked and look after yourself, a Princeton couple is warning after their truck was stolen with their dog inside of it on Saturday from a grocery store parking lot.
The truck was later found by RCMP, completely torched in Kelowna.
Claudia Orellana and her partner were at the Save-On-Foods around 6 p.m., grabbing some milk and a Christmas tree.
“We were in there no more than 10 minutes, 10 minutes tops,” she explained. When they came out, they couldn’t spot their truck.
“Our town is small and the Save-On parking lot is teeny tiny. And we said, ‘Where's the truck?’ It just wouldn't compute into our brains, you know, that our truck wasn't there.”
Her next thought was for her dog, Princess, that they had left in the truck.
“All of a sudden, I hear this voice from far away, saying, ‘Does this dog belong to anyone?’”
A huge wave of relief washed over Orellana as a stranger was walking around holding her dog in the parking lot trying to find its owners. Apparently she had been found wandering over the road and parking lot.
“At least I am grateful that my dog was not killed. I can imagine she must have been barking up a storm. So they probably threw her out immediately because a barking dog draws attention.”
The two people that found her dog also offered them a ride home to grab their other car.
“I'd like to say thank you to those people that took the time to pick up my dog and not just leave her. Because like I said, this is a small town. I love this town. Princeton people usually are very kind to each other.”
Right away, her partner called the RCMP to report the theft and hopefully have them catch the thief.
“This is the first time he's had a vehicle stolen. Meanwhile, I've had five vehicles stolen because I lived in Winnipeg and that was a very bad place,” Orellana added. “He usually locks his truck, he chastises me for leaving my van unlocked and now you better believe I'm going to be locking it wherever I go.”
“You're left kind of feeling vulnerable.”
The thieves also made off with a wallet, credit cards, dry box, tools and a set of new winter tires.
“It just feels like you work hard, you try to make your things a little bit better and then someone comes along and decides they're just gonna take it because they want it.”
After posting to Facebook on Saturday asking the community to keep an eye out for the truck, Orellana received a private message from someone telling her that whomever was driving the truck had cut them off.
“They said that truck cut me off coming out of Save-On, driving like a crazy person.”
They spotted two young guys heading the wrong way down a one-way street afterwards.
“We didn't feel anything when we came out of the truck. We didn't see anybody hanging around. So I don't know where they were but obviously they were scoping everybody that pulled in and they chose the truck.”
“They obviously broke in, hot wired it, did whatever they had the tools for it. So they meant business. It wasn't a crime of opportunity. They were lying in wait for somebody.”
The two are hoping to see security cameras installed in the Save-On-Foods parking lot soon.
Early on Monday morning, they got a call from the RCMP letting them know the truck had been found.
“‘We found your truck’ and [My partner] said ‘Yeah!’ and [the officer] goes, ‘No, just hold on a second'…So he said, ‘Yeah, when we found it, it was fully engulfed in flames. Someone called it in and we had to call the fire department to extinguish it. It's a complete write-off. It's completely burned.'”
The couple is working on seeing what will be covered under insurance for the damaged truck and stolen items.
“I feel horrible for his truck getting stolen. But I am so grateful that my doggie is here. I can't replace her,” Orellana added.
“Just let's count our blessings. Be grateful for what we do have even though there are bad people out there wanting to ruin it for others.”