A popular St. Paul Mexican eatery has its corn roaster back, eight months after thieves hooked it up to a truck drove off with it.
Crooks had painted the silver roaster black, but didn't cover up the logos of El Burrito Mercado well enough which allowed police to identify the stolen unit and return it to its owners.
"Good news. Police found our stolen roaster in Wisconsin," the restaurant's CEO Milissa Silva Diaz wrote in a message posted with photos of the discolored unit on her Facebook page Tuesday night. "Thank you all for helping look this past summer."
The corn roaster was one of four owned by the family-run restaurant, which was founded in the 1970s by Tomas and Maria Silva. Last July 17, an employee dropped off the unit at the restaurant and marketplace at 175 Cesar Chavez Street around 2 a.m. after it had been used at a festival the previous day.
Normally the roaster is locked up on the property, but since it was brought back early Sunday and was going to be picked up a few hours later, they "hid it on the property" and didn't secure it as usual, assistant manager Ramon Campos told the Star Tribune after the theft.
Sometime between 2 and 5 a.m., a surveillance camera recorded a man with a light-colored pickup hooking up the roaster and driving off with it.
An urgent plea immediately went out over social media asking the public to keep their eyes open and to watch for it at junk and scrap metal yards. The restaurant also offered a cash reward and asked the public to call police if they knew of anybody who opened a new corn roasting station.
Silva did not say where in Wisconsin the roaster was found or what led police to it.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768