Hot Sauce and Pepper theft turns into smash and grab at Tempe pawn shop in twist of events

After a restaurant had nearly everything stolen from them earlier this month, Tempe Police have a dramatic update as a criminal steals from one small business to damage another by ramming through a wall, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

"We're looking at upwards of $10,000," said Sgt. Hector Encinas.

It all started at Hot Sauce and Pepper, a vegan pop-up restaurant with a loyal following.

Aaron Junior says the U-Haul truck he rents for business was loaded up with everything for an event on Jan. 7. He stopped in Tempe to pick up new shirts on the way.

"I just ran in real quick," he said. "I grabbed a bag, and we had trouble finding the second bag. By the time we came out with the second bag, which was about 3-4 minutes later, it was gone."

Gone. Not just with the truck, but with everything that makes this business work.

"Anything you can think of to run my business with was in there," Junior said.

That's when everyone they served stepped in – they donated old equipment, materials, and funds, and now, despite the long odds, they are back again.

"As much as it hurt the first 24 or 48 hours, since then it’s been uplifting from everybody picking us up, picking us up, picking us up, so honestly the despair I felt then … I am so far removed," Junior said.

As Tempe Police investigated the theft, they were called to Tempe Pawn and Gold. The front of their business was destroyed, and the surveillance video showed it was a U-Haul truck that caused it all.

"Essentially break into the business by ramming through it," said Sgt. Encinas.

Police say they were able to confirm it's the same truck – 13 hours passed between the theft of the van and the smash and grab at Tempe Pawn and Gold.

The man who broke in stole silver jewelry and left. The U-Haul has still not been found.

Two businesses are now impacted by one theft. But despite that, both are still open, still serving their community.

Hot Sauce and Pepper GoFundMe

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