AURORA, Colo. – A Colorado family is warning others of the dangers of "puffing" after their truck was stolen with their two dogs inside.
While illegal in most cities, puffing is common across Colorado in winter months, as people leave cars running unattended to get them warm on cold mornings.
Wednesday morning, Manny Sandoval says he put his dogs in the back of his truck near Tower Road and Interstate 70 in Aurora, then ran back inside his house to get his lunch. When he came back out, the truck was gone.
"Not even 60 seconds later, the truck was gone," Sandoval says. "I would never think it would happen to me."
Police recovered the truck later Wednesday at a nearby school, stripped clean of its tires and rims. Betty and Bubbles, Sandoval's chihuahuas, were still in the backseat.
"I felt joy, honestly, a lot of joy, because you can't replace the animals," says Sandoval. "The whole truck was dismantled, but I got my dogs back. The material things can be replaced, but unconditional love with an animal or a child can't be replaced."
The Aurora Police Department says thefts involving puffers are relatively common in winter months.
In 2018, 217 cars were reported stolen while puffing, accounting for more than 10 percent of Aurora's total number of stolen cars.
"You might not think it will happen to you, but that's how I felt, and then it happened to me," says Sandoval.
As he waits for his car to be repaired, he's hoping his story can be a lesson to others.
"Don't leave your car on. If you are, get an auto start so you can control your vehicle and not leave it unattended," says Sandoval, referring to systems that enable car owners to start their vehicle from afar while it remains locked.
Police continue searching for whoever is responsible for the theft.
"Honestly, I don't really care what happens to that person. Karma always comes back," says Sandoval. "I got my animals, and that's all I really care about."