“I’ve lost all hope.” Over $120,000 raised for men who had vehicles stolen in wild SoCal police chase

Whittier resident Andres Benitez had just returned from work on Wednesday evening when a man suddenly burst into his kitchen.

“I was just talking to my mum and we were having a normal conversation when I saw the back door open,” he told KNBC-TV Channel 4.

Seeing the intruder in his kitchen, Benitez grabbed a kitchen knife to protect his mother, but the man managed to snatch the keys to his work truck from his kitchen table and ran outside down the driveway.

Benitez didn’t know it at the time, but he had unwittingly been part of one of the craziest police chases in an area known to have frequent police chases. The hour-long chase involved a suspect who led police in Los Angeles and Orange counties, twice driving into other people’s vehicles, hitting multiple cars and ramming at least two police cruisers.

Thanks to the generosity of the public, Benitez and the owner of a second vehicle stolen in the chase have raised more than a combined $120,000 through GoFundMe pages to replace their misappropriated property.

The chase ended with gunfire at a gas station in Hacienda Heights, where no one was hurt, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Johnny Anchondo, 32, of Moreno Valley was arrested on suspicion of violating his parole, with other charges pending. He is being held at the Norwalk Sheriff’s Station without bond.

Benitez, his mother and their dogs had chased the man outside, video footage shows, but the man slammed into a door and got into the white van, narrowly missing one of the small dogs that got in. were rushed under the vehicle before leaving. .

“When I saw him start the truck, my heart broke,” Benitez told the news channel.

Benitez, who has a landscaping business with his brother and father, started a GoFundMe page to help raise money to replace the tools that were inside the truck. Over $94,000 was raised Friday afternoon.

“We’re not asking for a new truck, just anything to get tools and get back to work,” Benitez wrote on the fundraising page.

Benitez wrote in an update Friday that the truck and tools were insured but remained in the custody of the sheriff’s department, which the family said will keep them as evidence until the case is closed.

“I just can’t thank you enough for the support and love you have given me,” Benitez said in an Instagram video. “This business is what puts food on the table. That’s what pays the rent. That’s what pays the bills.

“Seeing a three-week investment with all our gear, it’s been so hard to get to that level, and to see him take it away from me like that, it really hurts,” he continued. “Honestly, I’ve lost all hope.”

Anaheim resident John Reynolds told KTLA-TV Channel 5 he was at Knott’s Berry Farm with his family when the car chase began.

Reynolds, who works as a food distributor, didn’t know the van he uses for his job had been stolen until he received a call from the head of his housing complex’s homeowners’ association. He then watched the chase on television.

Shortly after the chase began, Anchondo allegedly entered an apartment complex, parked the black Honda Civic he was driving, and jumped into Reynolds’ white Chevrolet pickup truck nearby, video from KABC-TV broadcasts Channel 7.

Police attempted to block the van from behind, but the man repeatedly backed into the police SUV before fleeing the apartment complex.

“What am I going to do from work tomorrow?” Reynolds told the news station. “I need this for work. I hope it is still usable.

Reynolds also launched a GoFundMe page, which received more than $30,000 in donations Friday afternoon.

“This work van is what I used to deliver fresh produce and fruit cuts to convenience stores in Los Angeles and Orange County, and to support my family,” Reynolds wrote on the page. . “I will be renting a U-Haul van at this time, but eventually will need to purchase a replacement van for my business, and any help would be appreciated.”

Reynolds wrote that he “had the best day of his life” before learning of the stolen van.

“The kids have never been better off, the weather was just perfect so it was a shock to come home to this nightmare,” he continued. “Thank you all for showing my family love and support.”

Los Angeles Times

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