The van was there, and then it was gone.

Adrian Rios is a local contractor — a hard-working man with a wife and 6-year-old son. The economy has been tough on the construction and contracting business lately. He uses a van as his work vehicle. Rios usually keeps the vehicle in a storage facility, but on Feb. 2 he parked it in front of his Highland Meadows home after work.

“It’s for my work,” he says of the 1998 Ford van. “I install hardwood floors. Business is kind of slow.”

Rios was getting ready for work around 7 a.m. that morning. He looked outside and saw his van still in front of his home. When he headed out for work only minutes later, his work van was gone.

“It had been outside my home on the street,” he says. “They stole it about 7:15. They broke one of the locks on the driver’s side and broke the ignition. I lost a couple of table saws, air compressors and my toolbox with all my tools.”

This is not the first time Rios has been victimized. Someone broke into his van last year, too. “Last time they just took the tools. This time they took the van and the tools,” he says with a chuckle.

Fortunately, police were able to recover his van, but his tools were gone. Rios estimates the lost tools and repairing the van will cost him more than $1,500. Trying to look on the bright side, however, he notes: “At least I got my van back.”

Senior Cpl. Geoff Pettay of the Northeast Patrol Division says it is important to follow the “lock, take and hide” instructions from police, as well as park in well-lit areas. Simply removing objects from a vehicle, in this case the tools, could cause a thief to look elsewhere.

“The tools should be brought inside and secured if possible. All thieves look for is something easy to take. In this case, they took the whole van to get the property. It only takes that one time when you let your guard down to become a victim.”