Lancaster

Armed robbers steal Lancaster street vendor's cart and cash

Armed thieves stole Rafael Martínez's card, which he uses to sell frozen treats.

A street vendor selling frozen treats was robbed at gunpoint by three men Monday afternoon in Lancaster.

The incident occurred at 5:45 p.m. Monday when three young men approached Rafael Martínez.

“They asked me what they wanted to buy and I told them, okay, what do you want?, in English, and then they surrounded me and told me, give me everything, I bring a gun, and I got scared at the moment,” Martínez said.

Originally from Puebla, Mexico, Martínez went out to sell snow cones and corn as he has done in recent years to support his family.

“A lot of work, a lot of sweat, being in the sun to try to bring something for the family. I have three daughters and a boy to support, imagine," Martínez said.

Martínez said that the three young men who assaulted him pretended to want shaved ice cream, and while he was serving them one of the men pulled out a gun and demanded the money.

"First I thought about saving myself, I said, if he doesn't shoot me right now I can run," Martínez said. “I looked at a lot of people and I started yelling, asking, 'Help, somebody call the police.'"

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According to Martínez, while he was running for his life, the surrounding families began to flee Tierra Bonita Park. In a matter of seconds one of the subjects caught up with him.

"But one of them tried to follow me and as I kept running he went to my [ice cream] cart and took it away," Martínez said.

Martínez told NBCLA's sister station Telemundo 52 that a family called the police, and that's how Lancaster authorities found the $700 ice cream cart an hour later.

Martínez said, “Don't make fun of people. We all have to work honestly”.

Meanwhile, young Lancaster residents showed their solidarity.

“I see him selling, I come here to the park and I don't think that this is something that should happen in the parks where the children come. All my friends come to buy ice cream from him, if you can too, come support him,” said Lancaster resident Kelly Guerrero.

Street vendors said the crimes are such a common problem that they already have their methods to protect themselves.

“For example, if I see someone, a suspect, then I tell the person in front of us, 'Wait for me, don't leave me alone,' and people collaborate and they don't leave us alone,” said Viviana Rojas Velasco, a street vendor. .

Martinez recovered his cart worth more than $1,000, including the value of the cart and food. The subjects took $60 from him.

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