CBS MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Just before the new year an important trail camera was stolen in a St. Paul park.

This wasn’t just any trail camera. It was a part of a network of tools used by a nonprofit group to help track down lost pets.

Britt Zimmel is a part of the Retrievers Lost Dog Team, a volunteer group using trail cameras to track down lost pets.

“The camera is imperative to our retrieval,” Zimmel said.

The theft itself was all caught on camera.

“I could see that they were messing with the camera. We were getting images of that, but I was 40 minutes away, and there was nothing we could do, but we could tell they were stealing the camera,” Zimmel said.

credit: CBS

Stealing this trail camera wasn’t just a monetary loss for the volunteer group. It has stopped an ongoing search for Jack, a corgi lost near Swede Hollow Park.

“It really puts everything at a standstill,” she said.

These cameras are the main way of isolating the location of the dog, hopefully leading to their safe return.

“Currently there’s like five food stations out for Jack, and once we get him at one, we remove the other ones and then set up a trap and try to get him safe that way,” she said.

But without all of the cameras in place, bringing Jack home safe will no doubt will take longer.

“If I lost my dog and I thought that I might not get him back … it would mean the world to have a resource like that,” said dog owner Kimberly Carlson.

The camera was recovered by the St. Paul police Wednesday afternoon, and eventually will be returned to the rescue group. Police are still investigating the theft.

The camera cost the organization around $1,000 which they raised through a donation page. They plan to use that money to buy more of the much needed cameras.

If you are also looking for trail cameras to secure your backyard, check out our previous post:  Campark Buyer Guide For Trail Camera 

Credit: CBS