Many Americans had to move during the pandemic and many turned to renting trucks to transport their belongings.
Authorities warn people that well-marked vans or trucks are a target for brazen thieves. They aren’t just after the vehicles, but also the treasure troves of valuables that families have stored inside.
Miranda Justice and Don Reid told Inside Edition that they were moving Alaska to Florida when their truck to transport their belongings got stolen from the Washington hotel parking lot.
Surveillance video shows the moment the thief started pulling away. Inside the lobby, the manager noticed something was wrong. A hotel worker even tried chasing down the truck in his own van, but the thieves got away.
Police later found the truck abandoned, but all the contents inside had been rummaged through, bodycam video shows.
“How can people be so awful?”Don’t say. “We had boxes packed to the roof, all the way to the back of the truck, and they went through every single box, opened it up. Anything that was worth the value they took out. The rest of it they dumped on the floor.”
Georgia police investigator Steven Fields says most of the heists happen at hotels when families stop overnight while moving across the country.
“The U-Hauls are able to be manipulated, where they can get hot-wired very easily and they’re gone within a matter of minutes,” Fields said.
When they spot a van moving, the bad guys wait until night to attack.
Ben and Kassandra Benton said it happened, and that they woke up to find the truck filled with almost all of their belongings.
Worst of all, inside the truck was an urn containing their son’s ashes, which was never found, Kassandra said.
“You don’t wish it on anybody. Losing the ashes, going through all that all over again was horrible,” Don said.
To try and protect your belongings, police recommend a steering wheel lock to deter criminals. You can also invest in a small GPS device to assist in tracking down your truck.
In a statement, U-Haul says: “We sympathize when any customer is a victim of theft. When our customers are victimized by criminals, U-Haul is likewise victimized and share in their frustration. We employ a robust investigations unit that works closely with law enforcement in the tracking down of these criminals to ensure their prosecution. U-Haul directly assisted federal and local authorities just last [month] in the successful capture of the New York City subway shooter who had rented a cargo van in Philadelphia. U-Haul has assisted numerous customers over the years in recovering their stolen belongings, and regularly assists law enforcement and prosecutors when our equipment falls victim to criminals.”
U-Haul advises customers to take proactive steps to decrease the chance of equipment or property theft during moving.
- <em>Parking in well-lit areas is a good idea. Security cameras can be seen from your car. </em>
- <em>Don’t leave keys unattended in your truck. </em>
- <em>Lock the doors to your truck cab, and secure the cargo doors on your truck or trailer. These locks can be purchased at U-Haul stores.)</em>
- <em>Securely lock the chains that connect your vehicle or truck to your trailer. This will prevent the chains from being removed. These locks can be purchased at U-Haul stores.)</em>
- <em>Move your trailer or moving truck to a garage or wall so that the items cannot be moved. </em>
- <em>Do not leave your trailer or moving truck unattended in areas where crime is common. </em>
- <em>Avoid putting personal belongings in your truck/trailer and leaving it unattended, especially overnight, unless you can do so. </em>
- <em>You should not lend equipment to anyone other than the authorized driver or give the keys to someone you don’t know. </em>
- <em>For equipment pickup and return, please follow the exact U-Haul instructions. </em>