STOCKTON — Two ice cream vendors were attacked and robbed over the span of a few days in Stockton.
At the time of their reports, Stockton Police said all of the suspects involved in the robbery and attempted robbery were still at large.
Around 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Juan Mendoza Martinez’s small Stockton business was confronted by big trouble. His grandson Angel Guzman translated for him as he shared what happened.
“These two guys came up to him saying, ‘Can I get some ice cream?'” Guzman translated.
Mendoza Martinez has been a paletero, or bike cart popsicle and ice cream vendor, for 11 years. Police say he was working near Burkett Avenue, less than half a mile from his home, when two men knocked him off his bike and robbed him of his sales and cell phone.
“He was just hit everywhere,” Guzman said.
While that attack happened near a school, another occurred just 48 hours later near a church a few blocks away.
Police say an 82-year-old paletero was knocked down at South Golden Gate Avenue and East Marsh Street. But when a passerby shouted at the would-be robbers, they ran off.
“I think we’re still trying to determine if they were related,” said Stockton Community Service Officer Rosie Calderon.
Officers say the one common thing in both cases is the suspects pulled up in a red car, possibly a Nissan or Toyota in the case of Mendoza Martinez. In Tuesday’s attack, the car was described as a four-door Chevy with the partial plate number HZ581.
Mendoza Martinez says the two suspects were Hispanic men in their mid-20s. One man was 5 feet 10 inches tall and thin. He had black hair, was unshaven and wore a black T-shirt at the time of the robbery. The other man was 5 feet 5 inches tall, had brown hair and was clean-shaven. He was wearing a gray jacket.
Four black teenagers are said to have been involved in the other incident.
After everything’s that’s happened Mendoza Martinez found the courage to get back on his bike after the robbery. It’s now the eighth time he’s done it after a robbery.
“To feed his family… for them,” his grandson said.
If you know anything about these two attacks on paleteros, you can give an anonymous tip to Stockton Crimestoppers. Just dial 209-946-0600.