Caught on camera: Thieves try to steal giant stuffed bears from roadside vendor

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Some quick-thinking witnesses fought to stop a couple of thieves. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Some quick-thinking witnesses fought to stop a couple of thieves. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Last week, two thieves ran into the tent and swiped two of the biggest bears she had for sale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Last week, two thieves ran into the tent and swiped two of the biggest bears she had for sale. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Two big-hearted witnesses jumped into action, wrestling back the stolen bears in the middle of traffic, and returning them to Gonzalez. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Two big-hearted witnesses jumped into action, wrestling back the stolen bears in the middle of traffic, and returning them to Gonzalez. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The bears were cleaned up and put back out for sale. Each is worth $120. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The bears were cleaned up and put back out for sale. Each is worth $120. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

It's a crime you wouldn't believe happened if it weren't caught on camera.

Some thieves tried to rip off a road-side stand that sells giant stuffed animals for Valentine's Day. But they didn't get far. Some quick-thinking witnesses fought to stop them.

At the corner of 43rd Ave and Thomas Road, Erika Gonzalez runs a true labor of love. She and her family have been selling Valentine's Day gifts for the last six years.

"I think this is beautiful," said Gonzalez in Spanish. "I try to make different things, different details for the customers."

Last week, two thieves tried to take that from her, running into her tent and swiping two of the biggest bears she had for sale. 

"It gets me mad and I feel powerless because this is hard work to do this. I’ve been working on this for the past month doing all this, investing and gathering everything. For someone to come and get something that isn’t theirs, I feel like my hard work is lost," said Gonzalez.

But their plan was obviously not well thought out. Their getaway car was now stuck at a red light.

Street justice would be oh so sweet. 

Two big-hearted witnesses jumped into action, wrestling back the stolen bears in the middle of traffic, and returning them to Gonzalez. 

The strange event was recorded by another man, Emigdio Rivas, who was stopped at that same red light. 

"I’m glad that there are still people with a heart," she said. "People that still have the courage to defend and risk. Risking because they risked themselves to help someone they didn’t know. So I’m so happy. I give thanks to those people that did that."

The bears were cleaned up and put back out for sale. Each is worth $120.

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Copyright 2018 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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