FORT MILL — Molly the milk truck will soon ride - and moo - again.
Lakeview Farms' custom-made dairy truck that's painted like a cow and goes "moo" when the driver blows the horn was found Thursday evening in Charlotte - some 20 miles from its Fort Mill home.
Owner Jim Price went to Charlotte on Friday morning to retrieve the truck. Some of the dashboard had been tampered with, and some light switches were ruined.
Molly's signature cow horn is also broken.
"Molly seems to be running OK," Price said. "The cow horn was destroyed, but we'll find another way and get Molly talking again very soon."
Price is delighted someone spotted her and reported it to police.
The truck had been filled with $3,000 worth of glass-bottled, all-natural milk, scheduled to be delivered to homes in the Baxter community Thursday morning.
But the drivers arrived just after 2 a.m., the truck was missing.
Price was concerned when he learned that Molly was missing and assumed two things had happened.
"It was a joy ride for some challenging young adults who might just have been trying to get ready for school," he said. "Beyond that, when we didn't find it locally very quickly, I made some assumption it'd probably been taken to a scrap yard. That was my biggest fear."
The 2000 big-box Chevrolet truck with a black-and-white Holstein paint scheme and "Lakeview Farms" painted on the side would not have been easy to hide driving down the road, he said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police reported Molly was found on Pitts Drive in Charlotte about 7:30 p.m. Thursday. It was taken to a storage yard and processed for fingerprints and evidence.
Police might have found some evidence that could lead to the thieves, Price said.
Now he hopes people will keep a watch out for the cargo - three-fourths of the milk Molly had been carrying was missing.
"It's abnormal that people have glass-bottled milk," Price said. "If any of the folks in the area find someone who has an usual amount of glass milk bottles laying around, it could be some indication of someone that has been involved."
Though the business has an identical truck named Daisy, it would have been difficult to replace Molly.
"They're so rare simply because they are box-refrigerated units designed to go into smaller neighborhoods," Price said. "They're not available just to buy and rent."
Such trucks are custom-built, he said, and it takes nearly three months to complete. Price wishes the thieves had just asked for help if they needed it.
"If someone would just knock on the door and say, 'I need some milk and a ride home,' I would have been more gracious to give them that than tolerate what we had to go through to get Molly."
Nicole E. Smith 803-329-4068