Thieves have been targeting construction sites and contractors for years.
Their tools are popular targets because thieves assume they can sell them off quickly for cash.
In the middle of the night, a small group of men surrounded contractor William Markus' SUV.
He scared them off, but said he's lost tens of thousands of dollars of equipment to thieves over the last couple years.
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Now - he has layers of security around his house and his work truck. But despite all that, every week someone still tries to show up and steal his tools.
“There are times where I've literally caught the guy red handed, and he's in front of me, and there's nothing you can do about it,” said Markus. “I mean, you don't know if these guys have guns.”
Unfortunately, that's the nightmare scenario one man in San Francisco met early last month.
He caught someone trying to rip off tools from his truck and ran out to get video of the getaway car’s license plate. That's when someone in the car fired a shot.
This is not just an issue in the East Bay and San Francisco.
In Menlo Park, a contractor had his entire truck stolen.
Markus sid fending off these robberies adds time and cost to construction projects.
“Every time I need something out of my truck, I have to go through five, six locks to get to my tools,” he said.
Architect Adam Meyer said he's seen challenges getting construction workers to sites in San Francisco because they’re worried about getting robbed.
“For the smaller projects, these tradespeople are left on their own,” he said.
He blames policies that have reduced penalties for robberies.
“It's a ‘victimless crime,’” said Meyer. “It's not really a victimless crime, I mean, these tradespeople, the tools are their livelihood.”
NBC Bay Area checked in with the San Francisco and Menlo Park police departments about the robberies there but have not heard back.