People raised $100K for landscaper whose work truck was stolen and wrecked in a car chase

It's a bizarre story that ultimately shows the best humanity has to offer.

car theft, stolen truck

The Benitez family business relied heavily on their white truck.

It feels pretty safe to say that having a car stolen is universally traumatic. The invaded privacy, potential loss of irreplaceable items (everything from expensive equipment to silly trinkets that might hold immense sentimental value), and financial strain are enough to be devastating for anyone. And for those whose livelihoods depend on their vehicle, this stress is exponentially greater. The fact that people choose to inflict this kind of damage upon others is enough to make one lose faith in the human race.

However, despite humanity’s potential to commit truly awful acts, it always holds an equal amount of potential to help each other in times of need.

For landscaper Andres Benitez, paying the bills and putting food on the table relied heavily on the family’s work truck, along with the tools used for their business inside. According to NBC Los Angeles, it was something that the Benitez family saved up for years to afford. Then, on Nov. 9, it was stolen and used in a chaotic two-hour police pursuit from Orange to L.A. County in California.

The car thief broke into the Benitez home, stole the keys, then sped away—driving the wrong way on narrow two-lane roads, running red lights and crashing into multiple cars. By the time the illegal driver was arrested, the family’s work truck was heavily damaged.

To make matters worse, even though the truck was insured, it was now considered evidence and would possibly not be returned for a very long time—if at all.

Benitez might have been initially heartbroken, but he would soon be surprised that in his darkest hour, he would be met with compassion. He shared in an Instagram post that within only an hour of the incident unfolding, people showed up with trucks and tools to share, and were even offering volunteer work.

Benitez would later set up a GoFundMe page, initially only to raise enough money to replace the lost landscaping tools. But as of Nov. 15, the page has raised more than $100,000, allowing the family to get a new truck and continue earning a living.

As Benitez shared in a subsequent Instagram post, the whole thing was a “tragedy turned into a blessing,” one he plans to pay forward by getting in touch with and helping another victim in the incident who similarly used his van for work.

The young landscaper might describe the episode as a “life changing experience,” but fortunately, in this case it’s an uplifting use of the term.

“[It’s] truly heartwarming and unbelievable… [it] puts a big smile on my face knowing there’s people out there who truly care about helping me and my family get back on our feet…it’s just insane and still feels very unreal. I really am truly thankful and appreciate every single one of you for helping us out,” he said.

While it’s true that car theft is a serious issue (and one that has increased at an alarming rate over the past couple of years) it’s still a comfort to know that no matter the statistic, the world is full of people willing to step in and help. When egregious acts are seemingly plentiful, it becomes crucial to look at what right things are happening.

This article originally appeared on 04.15.19

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