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‘Puffing’ gives couple big scare when car with beloved dog inside gets stolen

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DENVER -- Cold temperatures might make it tempting to warm up your car by leaving it running with the keys in the ignition.

It's called puffing, and not only is it illegal, it makes you a target for thieves, like the one who stole Sydney Muller’s car Thursday night with her 7-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Piper, inside.

The car was left unlocked and running near 6th and Broadway just before 8pm.

“I just should have locked the car and taken the keys. I made a mistake and it`s something I will never do again but I don`t think that matters if we can’t get her back,” said Muller.

Muller said she ran inside a sandwich shop, ordered, and when she turned around the car and her dog were gone.

“It's us three. She`s like our little kid,” said Jameson Bennett, Muller’s boyfriend.

“It’s an all-white female Jack Russell terrier. Her name is Piper,” Bennett said, speaking to animal control on the phone.

Muller and Bennett made hundreds of calls and searched miles of streets. Finally a phone call paid off.

Late Thursday night a woman found piper wandering near the corner of West 10th Avenue and Federal Boulevard and Friday morning left her with animal control.

Piper was back home Friday night.

“Mom`s going to be more careful from now on, huh,” Muller said while hugging her dog.

But the stolen car is still nowhere to be found.

“Don`t assume that the unlikely risk won`t happen to you,” said Bennett.

Even without the car back they said it's a happy ending and a lesson learned.

The term "puffing" was coined by car thieves who scour snowy streets looking for exhaust puffing out of the tailpipes of empty cars.

Puffing citations can cost you more than $100.

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