Utility Van, Man's Source of Work, Stolen From Reseda Apartment Complex Garage

"They took everything my dad had worked for, everything he had invested into trying to become better in this country," the victim's daughter said. "And just to be taken away?"

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Valentin Davila knows exactly where his utility van was parked.

It was in the same spot it usually sits in when he's not driving it -- underground, at his apartment, in what's usually a gated complex on Wilbur and Sherman Way in Reseda.

"Mi van estaba allí," he says. My van was there. "Pues fue la que robaron," -- that was what they stole.

It happened last Sunday night, Dec. 5. Davila was in his apartment, and he heard the moment of impact.

"Como si estuviera una terremoto, como si algo estaba callendo," he says -- it sounded like an earthquake, like something was falling.

Nothing fell, however. The gate hung on, as whoever it was that stole the van rammed right through on their way out.

More than a dozen people have now been arrested in connection with a string of smash and grab robberies. Robert Kovacik reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Dec. 2, 2021.

The 1999 Ford Econoline, full of equipment, is still missing. Davila's whole business, installing and fixing air conditioners, is in limbo right before the holidays.

There's been a recent slew of smash-and-grab and follow-home robberies in Los Angeles. But the people targeted in those incidents were chosen based on the cars they drove, or the jewelry they wore.

This time, the theft affects a family working paycheck to paycheck.

"Era la fuente de mi trabajo," Davila said -- it was my source of work, and now, he's lost everything.

"This was the way he supported my brother, who’s autistic, and my mom," said Davila's daughter, Kimberly Castro.

She doesn't have much faith they'll ever get the van back, pointing to the recent increase in thefts.

"They took everything my dad had worked for, everything he had invested into trying to become better in this country, and just to be taken away?" she said. "Extremely sad."

Castro helped set up an online site for donations, and says that for all the bad this caused for her family, she takes comfort in the good that's come forward to help.

"We are beyond grateful and thankful to God that people we don’t know in our community are coming together for us," she said.

The LAPD is still investigating this theft. But the surveillance video that might have existed, doesn't.

The police have also checked with apartment complexes in the area to see if they might have caught the van taking off -- but so far, no leads.

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