Gardena Plumber Decries Frustrating Crime Laws After Losing $30,000 in Tools

A plumber in Southern California is reeling after thieves made off with his work van and tools worth $30,000, only to be shocked further when the suspect was released shortly after being arrested.

Robert Powell, the victim in this unfortunate incident, is facing unemployment and uncertainty as he grapples with the aftermath of the theft that occurred on March 28 outside his Gardena home, caught on surveillance cameras.

“They came and took it at 4:30 a.m.,” Powell recounted, his frustration evident. “It’s hard to replace $30,000 worth of equipment that has taken you 10 years to gather.”

Despite the recovery of his abandoned van later that morning in South Gate, Powell’s tools were nowhere to be found, leaving him at a loss.

Photo Credit: KTLA 5/Youtube

While a suspect was arrested on April 5 in connection with the theft, Powell’s tools remain missing, amplifying his anger and disillusionment with the criminal justice system.

Powell is not alone in his frustration, as he and his daughter are left to pick up the pieces of his shattered business. Their efforts to recover the stolen tools led them to the OfferUp app, where they identified their items by Powell’s initials.

Upon contacting the Gardena Police Department, Powell was promised assistance in chasing down the seller of the stolen tools, leading to a successful raid on the suspect’s home, where “every room was packed with tools.”

Photo Credit: KTLA 5/Youtube

Despite this breakthrough, Powell was disheartened to learn that only a fraction of his stolen tools had been recovered, with many of the expensive ones already sold.

The release of the suspect shortly after arrest has left Powell feeling betrayed by the system, prompting him to call for legislative changes to prevent such injustices in the future.

Photo Credit: KTLA 5/Youtube

In October 2023, Los Angeles County’s zero bail policy came into effect, further exacerbating the situation by allowing suspects accused of misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes to be released without bail.

Powell fears that without meaningful consequences, the suspect may continue to commit crimes with impunity, jeopardizing the safety and livelihoods of others.

As Powell endeavors to rebuild his plumbing business, a GoFundMe page has been set up to aid in his recovery efforts, offering a glimmer of hope in the face of adversity.

Photo Credit: KTLA 5/Youtube

Despite repeated attempts, KTLA has yet to receive a response from Gardena police regarding the case, leaving Powell and others like him feeling abandoned by the very system meant to protect them.