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Thieves allegedly run over, break South Lake Union food truck operator’s leg

Martha Lopez is stuck in crutches after thieves stole her food truck's generator and ran over her leg. (Photo courtesy of Martha Lopez)

Martha Lopez dishes out burritos and quesadillas from the El Cabrito, a South Lake Union food truck, every day around the region, from Ballard to Bellevue.

On April 24, she and a colleague were getting ready to pack up the food truck for the day in South Lake Union when two thieves snatched their generators.

The food truck needs two generators at all times to operate. Each one costs about $2,000.

Lopez was not prepared to let thieves run off with them.

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“We were able to get one generator, but he was able to pick up the other generator and throw it in the car,” she said.

As her colleague fought with one of the thieves to get the generator back, Lopez ran after their car to stop the getaway driver with the other generator. A former Golden Gloves boxer, Lopez was not afraid to defend her property.

“We would’ve liked to take him out of his car, and wrestle him down, hold him down … until somebody came along and called the cops on him,” Lopez said.

She attempted to open the door, but the driver slammed it shut as his accomplice jumped in the other side. The driver threw the car in reverse, running over Lopez’s leg, and sped away as she screamed in pain, according to surveillance video.

Now a broken tibia and fibula — the two long leg bones below the knee — have Lopez stuck at home, unable to work. It will be six weeks before she can walk again.

For a small business like a food truck, the loss of a generator alone is a huge setback. Add in the complications and expense of a debilitating injury like a broken leg, and it’s an even greater hurdle to overcome.

Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe to help Lopez with her medical bills, writing, “Food truck owners are extremely hard workers and we need to rally behind this kind of injustice as her medical bills alone could kill her business.”

“It makes me mad because that week we were supposed to be really busy,” Lopez said. “We had tons of events to go to and once they grabbed the generator it was like, ‘Oh no, now you’re going to mess this up.’ We didn’t need that to happen, and then it ended up being worse.”

Lopez said that the alleged getaway driver was a 5-foot-6, African-American man wearing a neon construction jacket. The man suspected of stealing the generator had ash-brown hair and was wearing all black. They got away in a 1998 silver, two-door Honda Accord with tinted windows, a sunroof, and a spoiler.

Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound is offering up to a $1,000 reward for any information leading to the arrest of these suspects. Call 1-800-222-TIPS or visit Crime Stoppers of Puget Sound to submit a tip.

Lopez said that crime has grown terrible throughout the area, but they thought their South Lake Union food truck was safe in that area.

“The crime rate is way up there,” she said. “Especially in South Lake Union, somewhere you wouldn’t expect it.”

Still, she keeps a positive attitude, grateful that her injury is one from which she will, in time, heal.

“It could have been worse,” she said.


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