A dog was found safe Tuesday night after the car it was in was stolen from an Eden Prairie gas station a day earlier.

The car and the canine were taken about 7 p.m. Monday from the Holiday station in the 8000 block of Flying Cloud Drive in the heart of the suburb's retail district, police said.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Tuesday, Eden Prairie police said the car and dog were found safe. The incident remains under investigation.

This is at least the third instance in recent weeks in the Twin Cities in which drivers have left vehicles running with a dog inside only to have the vehicle stolen.

On Feb. 2 in St. Paul, a car with Texas plates was taken from outside the Poke House & Tea Bar in the 1500 block of Randolph Avenue. On Feb. 5, a woman brought the dog, named Miracle, to the owner's home and left, police said.

On Jan. 23 in Bloomington, an SUV with a blue merle border collie inside was stolen from the parking lot of a hotel near the Mall of America. The dog was located the next day in Brooklyn Park and turned in to police.

In both of the earlier incidents, police have yet to announce any arrests or say whether the vehicles were recovered.

"Most of the vehicles stolen with dogs — or kids inside — are running and otherwise unattended," said St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders. "We ask people not to leave their vehicles running and unattended."

He added that police also discourage people from leaving children or animals in vehicles, "even for short periods of time."

While having a vehicle run while unattended is against city ordinance, Linders said, "we don't often cite people for it because they've already been victimized once their car, truck or SUV has been stolen. Our officers do, however, educate drivers about the risks."

Staff writer Alex Chhith contributed to this report.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482