The big old white passenger van had become more than just a ride for Jaime Y Los Chamacos.
It was really the Conjunto’s home away from home, on wheels. In recent years, Jaime DeAnda and the guys who make up the band had used the van to travel all over there Southwest. They used it for every weekend gig from the Rio Grande Valley to Laredo to San Antonio back to Houston. It also took them to New Mexico and West Texas to Amarillo and Oklahoma and Louisiana.
So when the van and the group’s equipment traveler were stolen from Luby's Cafeteria in Houston Sunday morning, DeAnda was floored. What’s worse is that all of the group’s equipment — everything from DeAnda’s trademark accordions, sound equipment, the bajos, conga and drum set — was in the trailer.
“Everything was in the van and the trailer,” said DeAnda, who lives in Alice. “Everything, even personal belongings and our clothes, was in there. It’s been like an emotional rollercoaster. We know our worth, and for someone to do something heartless like just take everything…”
The group was in Houston Saturday night for a performance at Herrera’s Tejano Nightclub. The group stayed at a hotel in Houston and went to Luby’s to eat Sunday.
Through the group’s Facebook page, they immediately spread the word of the missing van and trailer. The post was shared and an award was offered.
DeAnda and the group were told by authorities that the van and trailer were found Tuesday. However, all of their equipment and belongings were stolen. Everything stolen totaled an estimated $150,000.
Unfortunately, the group doesn’t have time for any time off. In fact, November is one of its busiest times of the year. The group is scheduled to play at a quinceanera in Rio Grande City Saturday. They also have a show in Boise, Idaho a week later followed by weekend gigs in San Antonio, Los Fresnos and Mission.
DeAnda said the group will fulfill all of its scheduled shows. For now, they make do with old equipment and other accommodations.