Thieves steal Hayward gardener's tools - and his means to earn a living

Every Monday for the past eight years, Noe Choto said he comes to his unit at a Hayward self-storage unit to pick up his gardening tools – his means for earning a living. 

But this past Monday, he found that his padlock had been torched. The door ajar.

"Three hedge trimmers, three weed whackers, five leaf blowers," Choto ticked off on Wednesday, showing what had been stolen. "It's very sad. I'm stressed because I have no money for everything." 

The 66-year-old works as a gardener on the weekends to make ends meet.

He said a work-related knee injury forced to take medical leave from a full-time  job doing maintenance work at an apartment complex.

Choto and his daughter, Amparo, said they suspect his unit was targeted – someone may have watched and followed him because no other unit was burglarized.

Choto reported the theft to storage company workers but was told the surveillance camera does not work. 

"It's been a hard time for our family," Amparo said. "A really hard time." 

Amparo said her father emigrated from Guatamala almost four decades ago. He's worked all his life and was diagnosed with cancer three years ago.

He was fortunate enough to ring the "cancer bell" at the hospital when he completed his radiation treatments last year.

He said he recently received notice that the rent for his apartment is set to increase July 1. 

"It feels like we start recovering and then something bad  happens again," Amparo said. 

Choto said he had recently purchased new electric landscaping equipment, and he estimated the total loss is about $5,000. 

Wringing his hands, Choto said he doesn't know how he's going to recover.

"He's going into more debt now that he has to start over his machinery that he just bought in January," Amparo said. "It's really frustrating." 

Hayward police say they don't have any leads and ask that anyone with information to contact them.

Amparo has started a GoFundMe to help her father. 

Noe Choto gardens on weekends to make ends meet.