HOUSTON—Just like any good contractor, Paul Kolanek hauls a lot of stuff in his van.
“Been in this business 34 years,” he says. “You accumulate a lot of tools.”
Summertime is his busiest time of year, because he fixes air conditioners. He makes a point of loading his van with everything he needs to finish his work as fast as he can.
”When we make a trip to somebody’s house, I don’t want to make another trip out,” he says. “I want to get you back in business as soon as possible.”
That’s hard to do, though, when somebody steals his tools.
Thieves struck the van parked in his driveway Thursday morning, swiping thousands of dollars worth of the equipment it has taken him a lifetime to acquire. A storage space in his vehicle – once loaded with so many Dewalt brand tools, his friends told him his truck should’ve been painted yellow—was cleaned out by the crooks.
“To see this empty, I can’t even begin to describe the feeling that I had to see this,” he says. “It’s like somebody kicked me in the wrong spot.”
But Kolanek has a tool the thieves may not have counted on. Surveillance cameras mounted on the roof of his northwest Harris County home captured video images of two young men driving up in a car, opening up his van and unloading his equipment.
“They’re hauling all this out, putting it in their small car, and the footage in there is about three minutes and 25 seconds long,” Kolanek says. “And that’s how long it took them to get just over $6,000 worth of tools.”
The video recorded reasonably good images of the suspects, especially the tattoos on one suspect’s arm and the glasses and T-shirt worn by the other. They look like teenagers.
“I saw that,” Kolanek said, “and I thought, ‘Where are these kids’ parents? What were they teaching them when they were coming up?’”
His homeowner’s insurance policy will cover most of the expense, Kolanek says, but the theft will still cost him a $2,000 deductible. And, of course, replacing all the tools it took him a lifetime to acquire will take a long time.
I want to whip somebody’s ass,” he says. “It’s just not fair. I worked too hard, too long.”