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Truck theft is dog napper , too

Published October 26, 2006


TAMPA — He just wanted a strawberry Italian ice. Instead, he ended up with a sleepless night and a heartache.
John Crona , 49, was preparing to watch the World Series Wednesday evening in his South Tampa home.

When rain delayed the game, he turned to his two best friends — Paco, his 5-year-old Yorkshire terrier, and Fancy, his 9-month-old Bichon Frise.

“You guys want to get some ice cream?” he asked. The dogs’ ears perked up. They understood.

Crona, an aircraft maintenance contractor, takes them almost everywhere in his white, four-door Dodge Ram pickup.

They know to expect bacon in the drive-through at Steak N’ Shake and treats from the teller at the bank.

The trio headed to nearby Gracie’s Ice, at 5226 S Dale Mabry Highway, south of Gandy Boulevard. Crona left the windows down and the truck running while he ran inside.

But moments after he walked in the door, a woman rushed in and said someone had driven away with Crona’s truck.

“I was in shock,” he said Thursday. “I just couldn’t believe it.”

He called 911.

“I told the cop, 'Forget the truck; those dogs are part of our lives. They are like our kids.’ ”

He called to break the news to his girlfriend, Lisa Malony, who was in Detroit visiting her mother and sister.
A police officer took Crona’s statement, then gave him a ride home.

The house was too quiet. He cleaned the garage. He barely slept. He left the outside light on, just in case.

On Thursday, he kept waiting and hoping that Paco and Fancy would turn up.

Malony flew back early from Detroit. Crona had no way of picking her up, so she took a cab.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of either the truck or the dogs should contact Tampa police at 813-276-3200.

[Last modified October 26, 2006, 22:23:04]

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