Georgia authorities are investigating what may be an Atlanta-based theft ring that has stolen more than two dozen moving trucks, swiping families’ entire belongings in the process.
Some of the victims were en route to new homes and reported that they had no insurance coverage on their household goods in the trucks. At least 21 of the stolen trucks were U-Haul vans, and U-Haul provides only insurance on the vehicle, for collision or fire, but it does not cover theft of cargo, according to an Atlanta TV news report.
“It wasn’t just a vehicle stolen,” said Kathleen Zini, whose family was moving to Alabama when their U-Haul was stolen from a Macon, Georgia hotel parking lot just before Christmas. “It was our entire house, our entire livelihood, our whole lives, our memories from our children’s birth, everything that we had was stolen.”
The 26-foot moving truck was found several days later, abandoned off Interstate 20 in DeKalb County in the Atlanta area. It was empty except for a piano and some children’s toys, 11Alive TV news reported.
The hotel’s surveillance video shows three men approaching the truck at 11:23 p.m. In just minutes, the thieves were able to start the truck, without the keys, and drive off with it. U-Haul said it had refunded the family’s rental fee and was investigating the theft.
The family’s checkbooks and other personal belongings were in the truck, and the thieves apparently tried to cash three checks, police said.
Authorities in Bibb County and in DeKalb County said they have recorded some 32 incident reports on stolen moving vans in the last two years, and at least 13 trucks have been recovered. In some, the van’s catalytic converters were also stolen.
No arrests have been made and few fingerprints have been found on the recovered moving trucks, police said.
Authorities urged renters to obtain insurance on their belongings before moving; to record the license tag number of the van; park in well-lit areas and position the van so that it is difficult for thieves to move or access the cargo.
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