A crook hit an unusual target yesterday - the PSPCA's city shelter - and drove off with the agency's animal ambulance and about $1,700 in cash, according to police and a PSPCA spokeswoman.

A 25-year-old female employee of the PSPCA's animal care and control team had just returned to the shelter on Hunting Park Avenue near Front Street, in Feltonville, when a stranger threatened her with a knife and demanded entry into the building, according to police.

Once inside, the suspect accessed a safe and stole about $1,700 that was inside, said Wendy Marano, PSPCA spokeswoman. She said that early reports that the safe contained $30,000 were erroneous.

After taking the cash, the robber fled in one of the PSPCA's emergency vehicles, a red 2000 Chevy, police said. Police said last night that the van was recovered in Northeast Philadelphia.

PSPCA typically uses the vehicles when executing search warrants and taking malnourished or abused animals out of homes, Marano said.

No employees were injured during the robbery, she said.

"We are working with all staff, who are very concerned," she said.

"We are just reinforcing our procedures and hoping to catch who the perpetrator is."

Anyone with information about the robbery is urged to call 215-686-8477.