Thieves who carried out a sophisticated and calculated robbery by lifting a minivan belonging to a New Hope nonprofit off the ground and stealing all four wheels missed an important step. They left two expensive floor jacks behind.
That has the founder of Can Do Canines willing to make a trade.
Al Peters said he’d gladly give the standing jacks that are still propping up the Chrysler minivan back to the crooks if they bring back the tires and wheels that were taken sometime Friday night.
Under cover of darkness, the thieves rolled into the parking lot of the organization on the 9400 block of Science Center Drive and removed the wheels. An employee who arrived for work Saturday morning saw the vehicle on the jacks and figured the well-used van was undergoing maintenance. But later that day, another employee noticed all four wheels were gone and sensed something was wrong.
Police took a report and even staked out the Can Do Canines building over the Christmas weekend, watching to see if the thieves came back to get the jacks. But so far there has been no sign of the crooks, Peters said.
Established in 1989, Can Do Canines provides service dogs for people with disabilities. Staff members use the van to take dogs to and from vet appointments and to adopt homeless dogs from shelters. The van is by no means new, but it’s an extremely important asset, Peters said.
“It is used every day and we depend on it,” he said. “They should not have wanted this van. It’s perfect for our needs.”
Peters didn’t have an estimate of the cost to replace the wheels, but he said his insurance company told him that it likely will be cheaper to replace the van than to get new wheels and tires from a junk yard.
“We rely totally on donated dollars and you hate to see money used in a way we don’t have to,” Peters said.
Usually the minivan and a second vehicle are under the watch of a caretaker who lives in the building. But with all the dogs in the organization’s care farmed out for the weekend, she was out on a Christmas holiday. With nobody around, Peters said, it was a perfect time for the crime.
Police say rain likely washed away any fingerprints. There were no security cameras on the nonprofit’s building in a deserted industrial park, and those on nearby buildings are likely to be too far away. “The chances of catching them are pretty slim,” Peters said.
As to why they left the jacks behind, Peters suspected the scofflaws may have gotten interrupted. But they may want them back since “these are not your typical tire-changing jacks,” Peters said. “These are floor jacks that can raise a whole car.”
So Peters said he would gladly be up for a friendly exchange.
“Just come and dump them in our driveway,” Peters said. “We’ll put them back on.”
Anyone with information about this crime can call the New Hope Police Department at 763-531-5170.