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Valley vegan catering company's U-Haul carrying the essentials of their business stolen in Tempe

The owners of Hot Sauce and Pepper said the truck was stolen Friday evening before the first of three events they were scheduled for this weekend.

TEMPE, Ariz. — A Valley vegan pop-up and catering business was left without any of the essentials after the owners said someone stole their U-Haul before they could make it to their events this weekend.

Tajia Diggs and Aaron Junior (AJ), who own Hot Sauce and Pepper, said they rented a U-Haul cargo van, as they typically do, ahead of their weekend events.

Hot Sauce and Pepper was supposed to be at First Friday on Roosevelt Row in Downtown Phoenix. It was the first of three scheduled events for the weekend, but on the way there, AJ said he stopped to pick up their work shirts at a business across the street from Kiwanis Park in Tempe.

“I just ran in real quick,” AJ said.

AJ said it was around 4:45 p.m. on Friday evening when he left the U-Haul running in front of the business and stepped inside for, at most, 5 minutes.

“We got back outside, the U-Haul was gone,” AJ said.

AJ said his phone did ping around 2 a.m. to the west of Tempe Town Lake in some brush area. AJ said he did go try and search there Saturday morning but didn’t find the phone or the U-Haul. 

Diggs and AJ said they’ve searched around the Tempe Town Lake area for hours Saturday, but haven’t found any signs of the U-Haul they rented.

The pair said they also filed a police report with Tempe Police Department. 12 News contacted the department regarding the police report, but a spokesperson did not provide information regarding the incident Saturday. 

“Hopefully it’s around here, I’m praying to God that we run into it somehow,” AJ said.

Diggs said Hot Sauce and Pepper is known for their cauliflower wings, which they call, “Caulifyah” wings. The pair said their business has been about building a community around good food.

“We love our community, we love going to these events and seeing everybody and talking to everybody,” Diggs said. “That’s just the fabric of Hot Sauce and Pepper, and you know, our baby was in there and it feels like somebody just ran off with that.”

They said the U-Haul had everything they need for their business including fryers, their cash drawer, sign, food, oil and more.

“Everything that we do to provide for our family,” AJ said. “Down to the trash can.”

As they keep searching for the U-Haul, with a license plate of AL02745, they’re holding onto gratitude for their community.

“With people supporting you, pouring out their love and their worry and sharing their prayers with you, it makes you feel like, okay, there is something on the other side,” AJ said.

Both said, even if they don’t find the U-Haul with their items, they’ll find a way to continue serving up food to their community.

“Ain’t no time to quit,” AJ said.

>> A GoFundMe has been created to help the business

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