The sculpture - called The Cow is Greener on the Other Side - is one of more than 80 created for CowParade North Carolina 2012.
Investigators said the fiberglass animal weighs between 100-150lbs and was bolted to a 400lb slab. It is decorated with a light green and black pattern. It is one of two at the auto dealership. Another, titled Binary Bovine was not stolen.
Police located the sculpture Monday evening at a home off Garrett Road in Durham. Officials have not said who stole the cow, but by Monday evening it was already back at Johnson Lexus with minimal damage.
The theft is just the latest incident involving the cow sculptures. In August, two people were arrested in the vandalism of a sculpture on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. A few days earlier, another sculpture was damaged outside the UNC Visitors Center - also in Chapel Hill.
The cows are part of a three-month exhibition.
Eventually, they will be auctioned off, with the money going to the N.C. Children's hospital.
Learn more about the event at: http://cowparadenc.com/