Surveillance video shows just how reckless and daring these thieves are as they tried to break into Lawnmowers Plus in San Marcos.
Thieves backed their truck into the metal bars and gate that protected the store’s entrance. They rammed the entrance three times before they finally got in.
"They then made a beeline for the Stihl equipment. They stole three chainsaws, four hedge trimmers and 12 line trimmers,” said Joshua Doney. His family has run this store since 1982.
They stole more than 20 pieces of equipment stole, probably worth about $7000. Thieves got in and out in about five to six minutes.
“They were pretty fast,” said Doney.
Someone who lives nearby heard the commotion around two in the morning and drove his car to the store to try to block-in the thieves. The thieves escaped driving over a two to three foot embankment. The neighbor called 911 while chasing them for several blocks. He was forced to stop when a stolen trimmer fell out of the thieves’ truck and got stuck underneath his car.
“He said they were going over 100 mph,” added Doney.
Three days prior in Escondido, another group of thieves broke into North County Lawnmower Inc. in the same aggressive manner.
"The wall was knocked over. The glass window was all broken. We had glass over the place,” said owner Andre Smith. “They must have strung a big chain and yanked the whole grade out.”
They stole three lawnmowers, each worth $1200. They also took several trimmers and blowers.
"Something like this happens and it makes me not trust people. And I don't like that feeling,” said daughter Jackie Fisher. She’s helped run the family business for more than a decade.
Fisher has a warning to anyone interested in buying this kind of equipment at a discount.
“If it’s a brand new piece of equipment and someone on Craigslist is selling it, there’s something’s fishy,” said Fisher.
She adds all of this equipment has to be sold by an authorized dealer and is tracked by its maker, Stihl.
Two family-run businesses are now out tens of thousands of dollars. The thieves are still on the run.
Thieves targeted another store in Escondido but they got spooked and took off before stealing anything.
Store owners we spoke to say they've heard of at least five other break-ins like this in Riverside County.
The Escondido Police Department is investigating both cases in its jurisdiction. Investigators are working with the Sheriff’s Deputies in San Marcos and Riverside Counties to determine if the cases are connected to the same thieves.