By Carlos Correa

LATHROP (CBS13) — Police in Lathrop are on the lookout for two men suspected of driving up to a car wash and stealing more than just the soap on a busy afternoon.

It was a scary moment that happened in broad daylight just as customers were pumping gas, and some were even a few feet away, inside a convenience store.

Owners at this Chevron Super-K say it happened within minutes with a parking lot full of customers and a camera watching the whole thing.

It’s the surveillance video, Christina Perez, an employee at the Chevron Super-K has seen over and over.

“I was actually in the cooler, and my co-worker comes in, and he’s like “Something happened, something happened,” and when I got out I thought somebody just stole a 12 pack or something, but no when I saw what actually happened I was shocked,” said Perez.

On a Sunday around 5 p.m., security cameras caught two men driving up to the station’s car wash in a blue vehicle with no intentions, employees say of ever getting a wash.

“You can hear it, just like boom, boom, and then it was gone,” she said.

On the video, you can see a man wearing a black shirt and black hat standing around the coin dispenser.

He wraps a steel cable around it and before you know it his accomplice takes off, using the force of the car to yank it out of the ground.

“They got guts, I mean, I really couldn’t believe it, actually take the time to chain it up and pull it, and they know we have cameras,” said employee Maria Ortiz.

Owners say the thieves probably didn’t drive away with a lot of money, but it did cost around $18,000 to repair the damage, including the lost business from the car wash closure.

“How much money can you possibly get out of a coin box? Really? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to take thousands,” she said.

Employees say 75 percent of the time, people purchase a car wash inside the store. Others buy it at the gas pump, and a few use a credit or debit card at the coin dispenser.

“My boss is a great guy and for that to just happened to him and caused all that money is just heartbreaking, we are a great little town, and we want to keep it like that,” said Perez.

Owners have already replaced the coin dispenser and are working with police on trying to identify these thieves.


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