Lakewood business struggling after thieves steal $6,000 worth of tools from work van

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. — In a matter of minutes, Robert Payne’s business took a huge hit.

“We rely on those tools to pay bills, to put food in everyone’s mouth,” said Payne, who runs Ampman Electric with his dad.

Payne said at least two thieves smashed the passenger window of his work van early Friday morning, making off with at least $6,000 worth of tools.

“The door to my van was completely open and the glass was shattered on the ground,” he said.

Payne said a neighbor was able to write down the license plate of one of the vehicles before it took off, but the Lakewood Police Department has not identified any suspects.

The father-son business has general liability insurance, but it does’t cover stolen tools.

“Like, a TV, I wouldn’t care. Sure, I might be a little upset, but it hurts you at a deep level when somebody takes your livelihood,” Payne said.

It’s also taken away his ability to get paid at work.

“I can’t finish some jobs right now,” he said. “I’ve got this big panel I have to install, so I need to get my tools together to get things installed, and keep my customers happy.”

Payne and his wife don’t have any savings to replace the tools.

All of their money, outside of the necessities, has gone toward their son’s medical bills and travel costs. The 5-year-old has a rare neurological disorder that mimics a brain tumor.

There’s no known cure, although he did have an out-of-state surgery to help with the symptoms.

“We had to use my wife’s 401(k) to do what we did for my son, for his surgery, to get out there,” Payne said. “We did get some help from the community, too, to get us out there.”

Payne has had to rely on donations from the community as he attempts to rebuild his tool inventory.

“I’ve had people on Nextdoor already offer for me to come over and go through their tools,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover those costs.

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