SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - In South San Jose, thieves get into a landscaper’s unguarded trailer stealing all his equipment in under three minutes. Ke Nguyen was on the job last Tuesday morning. His trailer was parked in the driveway of a customer’s home on Tennant Avenue.
Security cameras were installed three days prior to the theft and captured the thieves in action. Nguyen’s trailer was looted as he slipped into the backyard for a few minutes.
The 56-year-old gardener is now equipped with an old lawnmower. Most of his tools are heavy and old except for a just-purchased blower.
Last Tuesday at 9 a.m., thieves ransacked his trailer. Nguyen immigrated from Vietnam to San Jose in 1990 with nothing. He started a small landscaping business 25 years ago. All his tools were gone in minutes.
Home surveillance video captured the brazen theft. Nguyen is edging the grass at a client's home. He walks into the backyard. Thirty seconds later, a white truck drives by and makes a U-turn. Two men get out and open the trailer. One of them heads to the front of the truck and then goes to the back hauling equipment away. They steal two edge trimmers, a blower and a lawnmower. As they drive off, Nguyen is seen walking out, chasing after them.
Nguyen didn't lock his trailer thinking he’d be gone for just a few minutes. He estimates a loss of $2,500 of gear.
“They’re his livelihood, it's all he knows,” said Ke’s Son Steven Nguyen. “If he didn't have the equipment, I wouldn't know what he would do.”
His family describes him as hard-working and honest.
“His equipment is everything,” said Ke’s Daughter Kathy Nguyen. “Without it, he won't be able to pay for gas to get to and from or put food on the table for him and my mom.”
They see it as a crime of opportunity and suspect the thieves work in the neighborhood. Neighbors are surprised.
“I guess I am but in today's climate people take advantage,” said Neighbor Sue Wilkins.
Nguyen now chains down his equipment and locks his trailer every time. His family is confident someone will recognize the crooks, and they'll get caught.
“My dad worked hard for the equipment,” said Kathy Nguyen. “It’s not like someone put it on his lap.”
Nguyen has had his equipment stolen before but not to this extent. His family is thankful nothing worse happened, A GoFundMe has been established to help Nguyen pay for new, lightweight tools.