Contact 17 News: Fishing for answers

Thieves steal fishing gear from cancer survivor while he underwent surgery.

BAKERSFIELD, CA -- A local cancer survivor and avid fisherman makes a discovery that has him reeling in nothing but disbelief.

After spending months in the hospital, he returned to his Bakersfield home to find thieves stole nearly all of his fishing equipment. Now, he fears there's no way to lure in the crooks who took away the hobby that was helping him heal.

"You name it, I had it. I was ready for anything," said Daniel Villasenor about his fishing gear. "I mean, I've been fishing since I was 15 and it's taken me that long just to amass that amount of equipment."

And, Villasenor collected high-end gear, too, brand names like Shimano and Daiwa for lakes and deep sea.

But, the days of casting came to a close in April when Villasenor was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer.

"At first, I was only given months to live because the size of the tumor, to type of cancer, the location, the lymph node involvement," said Villasenor. "One of the things that kept me going was I was promised by a friend we would go to Montana and go fishing."

After four months and eight surgeries in the hospital, Villasenor returned to his Bakersfield garage and found no hooks, no lines, no sinkers. Just a few plastic bobbers and remnants of rods remained.

"I mean our garage was just ravaged. They took all of my fishing equipment," said Villasenor. "I'm just beyond myself, you know, how somebody could just do that."

Villasenor says the thieves made off with over $7,000 of specialized rod combos and gear. They even stole a box full of fishing trip photos. Nothing was insured.

"You know the fishing poles can always be replaced. Anything can be replaced. It's just the memories I had with them, with my nephews with with everybody, teaching everybody how to fish. That's the stuff that really gets to me," said Villasenor.

While Villasenor's name is carved on some of the poles and he's filed a report with the Sheriff's Department, he holds out little hope of making this catch.

"I hope it brings them luck. I had plenty of luck and plenty of catches. I just hope they know how to use it. You know, enjoy the equipment like I did," said Villasenor.

Villasenor is still undergoing cancer treatments. Even though money is tight, he says he'll someday build up his fishing gear again. If you know anything about this case, call the Sheriff's Department at 861-3110.

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Bakersfield, CA