SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Three women say they were robbed at knifepoint while on a family vacation to San Diego. It happened while they were walking on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach.
Everything from their id’s to their credit cards was stolen in an instant. Now, small business owners in the area are taking it upon themselves to help the family.
Kristen Vadala accepts mostly cash from her customers. Over the weekend — an unlucky break — she lost a huge chunk of that money. As luck would have it, a mom and her two daughters - visiting from Tucson, Az. - found the money and gave it back.
Not long after their good deed, the family was leaving a karaoke bar. And at 2 a.m., their own luck changed.
“We were walking on the boardwalk on mission beach and this guy came out from an alley," said Kaeli Modrzejewski.
Modrzejewski says the man was wielding a knife and demanded that she, her mom and her sister hand over their purses.
"Then he told us to get to our knees, and then we got on our knees and he was holding the knife at us," she said.
Forced to the pavement at knifepoint—the man—stole their cash, credit cards, phones and keys. The robber took off, maxing out the family’s credit cards within minutes.
They were scheduled to leave town the next day—with no hope of getting their belongings back.
"For some reason, I thought it would be safe to walk three people down the beach at night, now I know it’s not safe," Modrzejewski said.
That's where small business owner Kristen Vadala re-enters the story.
Vadala heard what happened to the women and, remembering their kind deed, decided it was her turn to pay it forward.
Vadala took to social media, asking her customers if they had seen the family’s purses ditched in a dumpster — anything — to try to get their belongings back. She says helping the family who helped her was the least she could do.
"Whatever I can do to play my part in helping return the favor, and getting their stuff back," Vadala said. "I’m willing to do whatever.”
Police told the family the man behind the attack has been arrested. They expect to be back in San Diego to testify later this year.