Doing almost all the work himself, Bill Willis, a general contractor, was close to finishing a remodel when his livelihood was taken away.
His truck, trailer and tools were all stolen from the street in front of the home he rents in Northeast Fresno. His friend found the trailer abandoned the next day. Willis shows us where he's now storing it for safekeeping. The trailer has been stripped and trashed inside. Shelves are empty and support straps for heavy equipment have been cut. Even a small tool chest is cleaned out. You can see how the thief got in by cutting the metal that holds the lock.
“For anybody to take a working person's tools, when they earn an honest living with their hands to provide for their family, you just can't get any lower than that,” said Willis.
Willis says these last few years have been difficult. After building his dream home, he lost it in foreclosure. The economy has not been good for contractors and he couldn't afford insurance for the tools.
“If it was in normal times, we could take the hit a little easier and keep on going, but when you're just barely hanging on and you have that happen, it's worse,” said Willis.
Fresno police have been working to reduce the number of stolen vehicles. In fact, the rate is down 30% from this time last year. But the numbers are still staggering: 128 vehicles were stolen in the last 14 days, 287 in the last 28 days. Attached to each number is person with a story. For people like Willis, the loss is devastating.
“They took a lot of my hope, if you're asking what they took from me personally. It makes it difficult to keep going,” said Willis.
Willis's 2007 white Chevy Silverado has his company logo on it. Fresno police are investigating, but if you have any information, call the Fresno Police Department at 621-6434.