MIAMI (WSVN) - Two strangers offered a generous gift to a South Florida landscaper, days after two other strangers stole thousands of dollars in lawn and construction equipment from his work van.
John Blanco said he knew he had to help after seeing a 7News story that aired Wednesday about a man who was targeted by thieves for the very items he needs to make a living.
“You know what? I’m gonna go inside the shed, I’m gonna grab that edger, I’m gonna get in contact with Channel 7,” said Blanco.
Surveillance video from Monday’s theft shows one of the crooks cracking the van’s lock and stealing about $3,000 worth of equipment.
Blanco grabbed his edger, the best tool in his shed, and called 7News.
“You guys were phenomenal. You guys contacted me right away,” he said. “It really bothered me. It hit home, so I wanted to see what I could do for him.”
The victim, Miami resident Soloman James, works alone. Speaking with 7News earlier this week, he said his vehicle and tools are his livelihood.
But the man seen in the security video didn’t seem to care. He was seen grabbing a leaf blower and other equipment, walking out of the frame and then returning with an accomplice less than a minute later.
The duo emptied James’ van, putting James out of work.
But with Blanco’s generous gift, James said he’s ready to piece back his life together.
“This completes my tools right now. I can go and rumble, you know what I mean? Ready to rumble,” he said as he held up the edger.
Then things got even better. 7News cameras captured another man walking up to James, Friday afternoon.
“Are you Solomon?” said Miguel Perez as he shook James’ hand and pulled him in for an embrace.
“I got you a little machine,” said Perez, who came with a lawnmower for James.
As it turns out, Perez, another complete stranger, also called 7News.
“I saw the story on Channel 7, and man, it hit me hard because I do the same type of work,” he said, “and if I’m out of work for a week, I could be even homeless.”
The criminals could have financially crippled James, but Blanco and Perez stepped up to make sure that was not going to happen.
“I know how he feels, so I just felt it was in me to do this for him,” said Blanco.
“Let’s help him out, get him back on the horse, and he won’t even miss a beat,” said Perez.
“Oh, yeah, definitely so,” said James.
“Make some money,” said Perez.
As for James, he not only gained new gear, but new friends.
“It’s just people like you who really make a difference,” said Perez. “We are now family. We’re coming home. We’re coming over for sugar cane.”
James said he’s ready to put his new equipment to use right away.
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