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U-Haul apologizes for mistake after family's belongings lost in moving truck mixup

Family given back 5 boxes of truckload
Stolen U-Haul
Posted at 8:56 PM, Sep 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 06:44:43-04

RIVERVIEW, Fla.  — A family new to the Tampa Bay area is finally getting some answers as to what happened to their moving truck they believed had been stolen.

Samantha Brown told ABC Action News on Wednesday her parents, Stan and Shirley, moved down from the St. Louis area after they sold their house at the end of August. While they stayed in an apartment waiting for their new home to be ready for move-in, Brown said her parents paid to store a U-Haul with all their belongings packed inside at a hotel parking lot in Clearwater.

Brown family stolen uhaul

“Went to go pick up their belongings from the Holiday Inn, the U-Haul, on the 4th, and the truck was not there anymore,” Brown said.

Brown said everything from furniture to financial information and even family memorabilia was gone. The family estimated the missing items were worth upwards of $43,000.

Brown family stolen uhaul

ABC Action News reached out to U-Haul about their case. U-Haul responded, saying the family's truck was mistakenly identified as abandoned and that their local team repossessed it.

The family said there were five boxes left of the truckload, one of which appears to be a compilation of other boxes despite the family being told employees didn't go through the items.

"While we are extremely grateful to get them, they represent perhaps at most a quarter of the memorabilia on the truck. It was a real punch in the gut after a very extreme emotional roller coaster ride. My children have been experiencing this same harmful emotional churn. U-Haul had told us that their employees would not/did not go through boxes, but one of these five boxes is a compilation of four other boxes," the family said.

"Either U-Haul or PC Solid Waste employees did go through boxes. We definitely wonder how much of our belongings and information did not make it into the incinerator and are in someone's hands and not ours."

UHaul left overs.png

A U-Haul representative sent us this statement and explanation:

Following media reports on Wednesday of an apparent moving truck theft in Clearwater, our local management team investigated. What we learned is that a truck rented by the Brown family, which was on a valid contract, was mistakenly identified as abandoned equipment and repossessed by our local team on Sept. 2. This was the result of human error stemming from a clerical mistake in our system that listed the same equipment number on a separate active contract in another state. The contract with the clerical mistake was referenced when the equipment was spotted in a Clearwater hotel lot, leading a local Team Member to believe it had been abandoned.

The Browns’ equipment and possessions were held at a U-Haul rental location for 10 days, from Sept. 2 to Sept. 12, while our team tried unsuccessfully to reach the customer on the contract. Unfortunately, our team was referencing the incorrect contract and attempting to contact the incorrect customer.

U-Haul management has been in contact with the Brown family. Our U-Haul Company of Clearwater president visited the family on Thursday morning to deliver several boxes of personal contents that were kept when their larger items were disposed.

Our Company intends to do right by the Brown family and make them whole for our mistake and the possessions they lost. This was an extremely rare and regrettable series of events for which we take full responsibility. We have offered our sincerest apologies to the Browns, and we thank them for their understanding.

The family told ABC Action News on Thursday any donations to their Gofundme will be returned to donors.