Francisca Rios went to her family's Compton restaurant on Monday to water the outdoor potted plants, as usual.
That's when she noticed one was missing.
She called her daughter and son-in-law, Danny Castellon, prompting the couple to check the video from their newly installed security cameras.
The footage shows a man driving a car with a broken windshield into the parking lot of Las Islas Marias at 8:31 p.m. Sunday, during business hours.
The driver gets out of the car, opens the rear door and, without trying to conceal his identity, walks up to the restaurant. When he returns, he is carrying a potted palm tree.
He then sticks the plant in his back seat and drives away.
Castellon chuckled at the incident and posted the video on the restaurant's Instagram with the caption, "Who's Tio?"
On a more serious note, Castellon told The Times he posted the video in hopes of tracking down the man and talking to him.
"I'd want to say something like, 'Hey, man, if you ever need anything, just try to reach out to us first, maybe we can give you a couple of bucks — or, if you're hungry, food," he said.
The Compton restaurant is one of five locations owned by Castellon's wife's family. The first, owned and operated by his father-in-law for more than 40 years, is on San Pedro Street in Los Angeles.
Castellon and his wife's parents are from Nayarit, a coastal state in Mexico known for its beaches, jungles, fishing villages and the Sierra Madre mountains.
With the knowledge of seafood handed down by their families, the couple knew they wanted to own their own restaurant. With the help of Castellon's father-in-law, the couple purchased their building on Rosecrans Avenue nine years ago.
At first, the building was in decay.
"The previous owners didn't show the building any love," Castellon said.
It took the family a year to repair and renovate the space and make it a "nice and family-oriented" place where the community could sit down and enjoy mariscos or empanadas de camarón.
"It's been a true blessing since we opened up, and all the hard work has been slowly paying off," Castellon said.
He remembers planting the palm tree before it bloomed, to "add greenery around the building to make it look welcoming."
Castellon said they're always looking to help or give back to the community. The restaurant hosts classic car shows in the summer and for the last three years has hosted a toy drive for local children.
When he showed his employees the security footage, several said they'd seen the driver before — looking for bottles, cans or anything he could salvage.
The family says anyone in need is welcome to come in for a meal. Just leave the plants alone.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.