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Crime

Highland Park Taquero Behind ‘the Seven-Layer Taco of Your Dreams’ Has His Truck Stolen in Plain Sight

5:54 PM PST on February 3, 2021

[dropcap size=big]O[/dropcap]n Sunday night, Victor Villa had just finished wrapping up his weekend service and was about to head home. He left his truck idling in the street in front of his family's home on Avenue 50 where he hosts his pop-ups while he said his goodbyes. That was when an unknown woman jumped into the truck out of nowhere and drove off with it. 

“I let my guard down,” he tells L.A. Taco. 

Villa proceeded to chase the suspect who stole his truck in plain sight.  “We chased her in four different cars, but she had a two-block headstart and lost us. She almost crashed into some guy (I know because he came to tell us when the cops arrived). I know everyone in my area, so I couldn’t believe that was happening to me.” 

My little sister Lulu told me, “They’re stealing your truck,” then I said, “Then let them take over the payments then!” Then we all started laughing. I thought she was kidding because we always kid around. But then [the woman] took off, and we all looked at each other and ran to our cars then chased after her.”

Villa is the owner of Villa’s Tacos, the most hyped pop-up taco shop known for serving “the seven-layer taco of your dreams” made with tender, mesquite-grilled ranchera flap meat in Highland Park. 

The stolen truck contained a large amount of his taco equipment used to run his pop-up, mostly everything other than the grills stolen. 

“She not only took my truck, but she took everything I needed to set up shop,” Villa said in a phone interview with L.A. Taco. He shares that what hurts the most is the sentimental value of the items he has had as he’s grown his taco business. “I think us as humans we have this...not necessarily problem but like we built this certain connection with everything we come in contact with daily so maybe for some people, it’s just a chopping board or some butcher knives...and everything else, but when you spend so much time with something it’s kinda hard to let go even if it’s not something that is alive.”

Villa’s sister Evelyn posted a fundraiser on Tuesday to help raise funds to replace the stolen equipment and truck. Villa said the GoFundMe has mostly covered the stolen equipment’s expenses at this point but has not covered the cost of the stolen truck; a 2017 white Dodge Ram 1500 with a long bed. The plates are 18564E2. 

Villa reopened the shop yesterday and posted an Instagram clip showing how quickly they sold out—in about 59 seconds.

“I’m not going to lie. It’s something I definitely was not expecting.” Villa said. “But sometimes that's how life is...

“I’m not going to lie. It’s something I definitely was not expecting.” Villa said. “But sometimes that's how life is, it throws you a bunch of curveballs, and you have to know how to dodge them or how to get hit by the ball and build it back up and do it again.”

Villa also posted a video yesterday showing empathy for the thief. He recited a poem-like message he wrote on a piece of paper to the person. He offered to drop any charges if she returned the truck by 9 PM last night. “You could keep the money,” he said in his letter.   

The suspect did not return the truck.

Villa has proceeded to rebuild and started to look for new equipment.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to go downtown. I’m going to go to Restaurant Depot. I’m going to go to all the places where I went to buy the first round of stuff for Villas Tacos.” Villa said. “And even though the set up won’t be the same as what was in the truck that was stolen, I plan on getting some nice serapes and moving forward and starting over again.”

The woman who stole the truck is being searched for on security cameras, using the credit card in Villa’s wallet, which was in the truck several times at various drug stores and gas stations.

“I’ve been driving around for a couple of hours...I thought it was going to be recovered by now, but it hasn’t.” Villa said. “I drove around a little bit today. I dedicated the day to getting the pieces of the puzzle together because I have information that I’m going to give to the detectives, and maybe they can find her, or maybe they can give me a picture of her, and they can find her.”

This is not the first time Villa has had trouble with a truck. Villa talked about the first truck he purchased early on in the business.

“I haven’t had the best luck with my truck I’ve used for my business ventures,” Villa said. “In my first year or so, I ended up buying a little truck, drove all the way to Palmdale, and picked it up for like 2,000 dollars. About two weeks later, the truck stopped working on me. I told myself I’m not going to buy a cheap truck like that [again].”

He later purchased the now stolen truck, which was named after his father’s Suburban.

Villa is working towards the future to eventually open a brick and mortar store on York Boulevard, where he spent a lot of time with his NELA-based family while growing up in Atwater Village.

“My dad’s Suburban is named La Perrona, so we named my truck after my dad’s Suburban. We named it La Perrona Jr.,” Villa said.

Villa is working towards the future to eventually open a brick and mortar store on York Boulevard, where he spent a lot of time with his NELA-based family while growing up in Atwater Village.

“We still have a lot of work to do to get where we want to be, which is brick and mortar,” Villa said. “Before COVID, we were street vendors, and we were just starting out, and then COVID hit, and we took some time off, and here we are again, our backs against the wall. We’re not necessarily street vendors. We’re not exactly brick and mortar. We’re kind of in the middle. We’re on our way to that brick and mortar.”

Villa was appreciative of his followers and community’s support and was overwhelmed by the help they received. He thanked the community for the support they gave during this time.

“I think my greatest joy at Villas Tacos is people being happier after they eat our food than they were before,” Villa said.

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