A distinctive trailer belonging to a family-owned coffee shop in Santee was stolen this week, setting the business back about $18,000.
The 12-foot trailer – which is custom painted black with red lettering that reads “The Coffee Corner” – was stolen from The Coffee Corner #1 located at 9608 Carlton Hills Boulevard in the Pathways Shopping Center sometime Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.
The shop’s owner, Duane Parks, told NBC 7 he left work around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. When he returned to work around 5:10 a.m. Wednesday, the trailer had vanished.
The trailer is typically parked in a small lot behind the business, next to a matching red and black vintage coffee trolley, also owned by the shop. Commuters along the busy stretch of Mast Boulevard on the way to State Route 52 can’t miss the vehicles; those who pull into the coffee shop’s drive-thru in the mornings drive right past the trolley and trailer.
Parks – who runs The Coffee Corner with his wife and three children – said they had last used the trailer for a health and fitness expo on Jan. 20 in Santee.
They hadn’t unloaded some of the equipment used for that event so the trailer was stolen with thousands of dollars-worth of items still inside, including catering supplies, generators, benches and espresso machines. In all, Parks said the trailer plus the equipment is worth about $18,000.
The trailer had a wheel lock on it, so Parks is baffled as to how the thief or thieves managed to move it. It was also secured with a tongue lock, which was found in pieces on the ground.
He thinks the suspects either entirely removed the wheel that was locked and put another wheel on the trailer, or loaded the trailer onto a flatbed or tow truck to haul it away. They may have also used a master key to access the wheel lock, Parks said.
Parks said the trolley parked next to the trailer was untouched. That vehicle is outfitted with a surveillance camera but the camera is too small to detect movement around the trailer. Parks reviewed the footage but said it showed nothing.
Parks also has surveillance cameras around his business, at the drive-thru, entrance and inside, but unfortunately, none of those cameras were pointed toward the area where the trailer was parked.
So, for now, the family has little information on how the crime occurred.
Parks and his family typically use the trailer and trolley jointly to cater events. Without the generators and trailer, the trolley is, essentially, unusable.
The Parks’ next event is on Feb. 24, when they’ll host a gathering for Vietnam veterans at the coffee shop. Parks said that event will still happen – it’ll just be a little bit harder now to put everything together.
"This sets us back when we’re doing those kinds of things," Parks said. "It’s disappointing."
Parks is trying to figure if his insurance will cover the loss of the trailer. For now, he’s working to replace the equipment that was stolen.
"There was no surplus," he explained. "This is all stuff we use, all the time."
Family friend and 101KGB radio host Clint August spoke with NBC 7 Thursday about the crime. He’s a regular at The Coffee Corner and was upset to hear that someone took what wasn’t theirs from the Parks family.
"This family does so much for the community, I can tell you that karma will come back to get whoever took the trailer," August said. "This is the last family you’d want to steal from."
August said he’s working with Parks to host the upcoming event for Vietnam veterans. He hopes that, by then, the trailer has been found or returned.
Parks said he hopes their case serves as a warning to others around the community to lock up their trailers or similar vehicles.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSO) said the crime is under investigation.
The Coffee Corner is open daily until 11 a.m. The Parks own a second Coffee Corner location at 235 Town Center Pkwy., Suite A, near Home Depot.