MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Two different tree trimming companies lost thousands of dollars worth of equipment after being held at gunpoint in the same East Memphis neighborhood just days apart.
“It happened so fast. Three of them popped out,” said Ursula Lopez.
Ursula Lopez’s husband owns Agustin Tree Service. She said her husband, his two younger brothers, and two other employees were robbed by three armed men while cutting a tree at a home on South Angela on July 13.
She said one of the workers who was up in the tree saw the robbers coming and tried to warn the others.
“He was yelling. He saw from far away someone was getting in my husband’s truck,” said Lopez. “One of my husband’s brothers got into a fight with one of them, and they pulled a gun, and that’s when they took off with a chainsaw.”
The victims told police three men got out a black Nissan Maxima, pointed guns at them, took three of their chainsaws, and left northbound on White Station.
Monday, another tree trimming crew was robbed less than a mile away on North Oak Grove, between Walnut Grove and Rich Road.
“They were working on this huge tree,” said a neighbor on Oak Grove.
A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said she saw the tree trimmers cutting down a tree limb and later noticed police at the house.
“They had a huge crane. So, I guess maybe the guys were, of course, focused on that and not who is getting into their van.”
The tree trimmers, who work for Woodland Tree Service, told officers four men in a silver SUV pulled up next to their work van, pointed guns at them, and took seven chainsaws and one leaf blower,
They said one of the suspects was wearing a blue surgical mask and a black Chicago Bulls snap back baseball cap, and their vehicle had a Tennessee drive-out tag.
“I hate it,” said the neighbor on Oak Grove. “We have a lot of landscapers that come in here. They are just trying to do good, work hard and make a living.”
Lopez said her husband had another chainsaw stolen from his work truck when it was parked outside a business on North Watkins a few weeks ago. She is just grateful this time no one was hurt.
“They were held up at gunpoint. He said they were pointing them right to their head,” said Lopez. “I told my husband in situations like that, just let it go. You can get a chainsaw back, but if he had lost someone, it would have been hard on us.”
Police said the two crews lost about $5,000 worth of equipment. Investigators are hoping a SkyCop camera near one of the scenes picked up the suspect’s vehicle.
If you know anything that can help police, call CrimeStoppers at (901)528-CASH. CrimeStoppers is now offering a $2,000 reward.