AJ Oliveira comes from Brazil. He moved to Torrance with his pregnant wife and two young daughters.
Oliveira says he is a musician and performs to earn money for his family. He arrived with his family on April 9. Three days later, the unimaginable happened.
Oliveira says a kind friend let him borrow his car and a guitar so he could start playing, but that Monday night he parked the car in the locked garage of his apartment after a concert and left the equipment in the car so he could put his kids to bed upstairs.
He planned to take out the equipment but ended up falling asleep. The next morning the car was gone.
The equipment for this car was worth more than $4,000, according to Oliveira. His wife’s passport, inside the car, was also stolen. He immediately called the police.
Oliveira reviewed surveillance footage from his apartment and found a man and a woman he said stole the car.
The police and Oliveira were trying to find a way to locate the vehicle.
“He was like, ‘is there a tracking device in the car that we can go?’ and I was like, ‘no, there’s no tracking device that I know of’, and then I was like, ‘oh!’ And it clicked, my iPad was in the car,” Oliveira said.
Using Apple’s “Find My” feature, Oliveira and detectives were able to track the location of the vehicle to the town of Lawndale, but its gear was still missing, further inside.
Oliveira says he couldn’t sit and wait, so he called music stores to warn them that his equipment had been stolen and someone might try to sell it.
He says he contacted Guitar Center headquarters where he inquired about his speaker, which he said was worth more than $1,000.
“He was like, ‘well, we have one but it’s in Lawndale.’ He’s like, ‘you have to call this store,'” Oliveira said.
Oliveira called and found his speaker, which he retrieved, but warned the store manager that the suspects might try to come back and sell the rest of his gear – and that’s what happened. happened.
“Torrance detectives continued their investigation to identify the suspect and were notified by the Guitar Center later in the day that a suspect was attempting to sell other stolen music equipment,” the Torrance Police Department said. in a statement to Eyewitness News. “To assist, LASD deputies responded and arrested the potential suspect.”
Officials say that on April 13, detectives were able to link a detained suspect to the stolen car incident. Torrance police did not identify the suspect, but said she was incarcerated for robbery and receiving stolen property.
“I feel bad. I feel paranoid,” Oliveira said. “I feel like it’s a stain in the beautiful image I had of South Bay and Torrance.”
Oliveira’s determination helped him recover most of his gear, but his friend’s guitar is still missing. He starts a GoFundMe to raise money to pay his friend back.
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