Crystal Garcia thought her husband, Sergio Garcia, was joking when he came home from work and asked what happened to their lawn equipment.
“He’s a big jokester,” she said. But this time, Garcia wasn’t joking.
While Crystal, Crystal’s mother, and the couple’s three children were gone to lunch on Monday, June 8, someone hitched their trailer full of around $6,000 of lawn equipment and took off.
Because it was raining, Sergio had quickly thrown a tarp over the equipment when he last used it and did not lock it up.
“I went outside (to look) and I balled,” Crystal said.
“I felt lost and upset,” Sergio said. “I felt like my whole life was taken from me because it is my main source of income to take care of both families.”
Garcia is the sole provider for the family of five, and his income also helps support another six family members in Mexico, several of whom are elderly or disabled.
“If we don’t send (the money,) they won’t have food, they won’t have anything,” Crystal said.
Garcia works during the week at Metro Greenscape in Charlotte, and on the weekend cuts lawns with his own equipment. Garcia services 20 customers, by himself, each weekend, his wife said.
“He makes more money on his own than at his company,” Crystal said. “I know that (equipment) was the number one income provider.”
“Inside I felt like my work dream was just ripped away,” Sergio said.
The Garcias filed a police report, but were told finding the equipment would be like finding “a needle in a haystack,” Crystal said.
The stolen equipment included a walk behind lawn mower, a Honda push mower, weed eaters, an edger, pruning tools, a chainsaw, handsaw, and various chemicals and other tools. The equipment was saved for and purchased over a period of seven years, as Garcia’s side business grew, Crystal said.
Crystal and her children frequent the Community Cafes on Wednesday and Fridays in Fort Mill. Kim Vinesett, director of SON ministries, which often brings hungry residents to the two churches hosting the cafes for a free meal and fellowship, said Garcia was noticeably upset when she saw her at the café the Wednesday after the theft. Vinesett asked Garcia what was wrong.
Crystal Garcia was “shaken and upset,” Vinesett said. “This was devastating to the whole family.”
Vinesett quickly spread the word through e-mail and word of mouth requesting help for the family.
“Time was of the essence before they fell into financial distress and lost their customer base,” Vinesett said.
Local residents stepped up to help, donating a riding lawnmower, a weed eater, an edger and a wood chipper to help replace the stolen items.
A trailer was also donated, but it is not large enough to carry the equipment. In the meantime, the Garcias are making payments on a trailer to help keep their business going.
Though the events rocked their family, all hope is not lost, the Garcia’s said.
“It is just material,” Sergio said, adding that he is thankful his family is safe. Crystal said she put the situation “in God’s hands.”
“I put everything in God’s hands and I know he will provide no matter what and God has already showed me in many ways he will provide in time,” Crystal said.
But still, she wonders.
“Why would you steal something that’s not yours?” Crystal asked.
“All a person would have to do is ask and we would give our shirts off our backs to help someone out.”
Family seeks leads
The Garcia family in Fort Mill is asking for help from the community in locating a trailer filled with lawn equipment that was stolen from their Nivens Park Drive home. Anyone with information is asked to call the York County Sheriff’s Office at 803-396-8426 or York County Crime Stoppers at 717-755-8477. Callers can remain anonymous and may receive a reward for information leading to an arrest. Anyone wishing to help the Garcia’s with equipment or monetary donations can call Crystal at 803-504-0435.