U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. is a real do-it-yourself kind of guy, so when he moved from his post at Camp Pendleton last month to serve as a Marine recruiter in Santa Rosa, he rented a U-Haul truck and packed his family’s belongings himself.
It was late when Aldama arrived to the new apartment the night of July 7 with wife Alexis Aldama-Mireles and 4-year-old daughter Marrisa, so they decided to lock the truck, head to sleep and complete the military’s stringent moving checklist in the morning.
But when Aldama walked outside at 8 a.m. the truck — and all their belongings — was gone.
“He came back inside and asked if I moved the truck,” Aldama-Mireles said. “And I was like, no, no. And then we were like maybe it got towed.”
The truck didn’t get towed.
Santa Rosa Police officers found the mostly empty truck in a parking lot near the Aldamas’ apartment later that afternoon. Police suspect thieves hot-wired it before breaking into the storage compartment.
The investigation is ongoing, but leads are scarce, said Santa Rosa Police Lt. Mike Lazzarini.
“It was upsetting, heartbreaking,” Aldama-Mireles said. “When we finally did get inside and start rummaging through what was left over, we realized not only did they take furniture and electronics, but things of a lot of sentimental value that would have no value to them.”
Aldama-Mireles’ wedding dress. Marrisa’s baby photos. All gone.
It took a little more than a month after the theft for James Brown, director of communications for Wine Country Marines in Sonoma, to get word of their situation. But once he did, he got to work.
Friday, after getting approval from the Marine Corps, Brown officially started seeking donations for the family.
The response has been overwhelming.
More than $5,000 in pledged cash and gift cards in less than a week. Close to $8,000 worth of furniture and clothing. Six dining tables. Twelve couches.
“I said, ‘Hey, they’re in an apartment, they probably only need one couch and one dining table,'” Brown said, laughing. “So unfortunately we’ve had to turn down a lot of stuff.”
At this point, Brown is asking people interested in helping the Aldamas donate cash or gift cards — he recommended Target, Kohl’s, Old Navy or Visa gift cards.
“The community is just so strong and so giving,” he said.
For Brown, a Marine himself who served in Korea, the Aldamas’ situation hit especially close to home, he said.
While making a similar move after his time serving, he pulled his car into a rest stop off Interstate 5 and went inside. When he came back he saw that someone had broken into his car. They left him with one box.
“I was like, ‘Wow, this could happen to anybody,’ and in fact, I’ve experienced it,” he said.
You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeaWarren.
(c)2017 The Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, Calif.) — www.pressdemocrat.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Please share this with the family. Not sure if this would help. We actually had the exact same thing happen to us when we moved from North Carolina to virginia. The uhaul people are beyond aware that this happens. And we were also pcs-ing from camp lejeune to quantico. Our new home owners insurance didn’t pick up until we bought our house. We did a lot of research and it turns out when you’re in transit the insurance from the former house you are in covers the transportation. We didn’t even have our own insurance but the military housing automatically has renters insurance for all the people living in the housing complex. If they call them they will be able to give them the policy information. If you would like to pass my email address along to them I would be glad to help. I remember how upset I was. It won’t get the sentimental stuff back but it will help them start to rebuild.
Wow, thank you! That is great news. Please click this link and contact the organization who is helping the family. They would have a way to pass the message and/or number. http://www.winecountrymarines.com/contact-us.html
Hi Jennifer Stumbaugh, I’m the person organizing the relief effort. We have a Marine Veteran, now an attorney helping pro-bono on this, and I’ll share this with him. I do know they are exploring these avenues. He didn’t come from base housing though, but rather an apartment in the community. But we will definitely look into this.
Thank you, and Semper Fidelis,