A street vendor in Huntington Park was robbed of the money he has saved for years. He believes he was followed when he took it out of the bank and had a flat tire.
Manuel Ortega said that this was his retirement money. He has worked for years, he is 67 years old and now he does not know what he is going to do.
“They took all my money, they didn’t leave me anything,” said Manuel Ortega. Painfully, he recounted how $24,000 was stolen from him.
“My entire pension, my retirement, my entire life,” Ortega said.
Ortega withdrew his savings from the bank on August 21, and when he left the bank, he realized that a tire was damaged.
He went to fix it at a Huntington Park business, and now he thinks it was a setup.
“They were following me, because first they popped my tire,” Ortega said.
Someone approached him and distracted him while the second unlocked the truck.
“Those thieves are very cunning, they are very clever,” Ortega said.
The business employees noticed but it was too late for Ortega, who sells flowers in Bell Gardens.
Ortega has sung for money. He is homeless and lives in a warehouse, thanks to the help of the church of God the great Jerusalem.
The pastor has a message for the thieves. “I would tell them to repent, pay it back because that money was worked penny by penny with his sweat,” said Pastor Cesar Suarez.
Ortega suffers from arthritis and other medical complications, and at 67, he doesn’t know if he will be able to stop working.
“That money was for my life, to live out the days that I have left,” Ortega said.
A witness said the suspects are two Latino men in their forties who left in a gray Scion xb. The police have not yet confirmed that information.
Source: NBC Los Angeles