Something strange happened in New Mexico recently that can be taken as a lesson in one way or another. I assure you, this is a story that you have never heard of before. It involved a U-Haul, a couple traveling throughout the states on a road trip, thieves, and what was inside the U-Haul at the time. But we’ll get to that part.
There was a couple that had been traveling for days with their U-Haul in tow and got exhausted. So what did they do? They stopped for the night and stayed at a hotel. Sounds about right, no? Well, the next turn of events goes a bit awry. After getting up the next morning and ready to continue on with their road trip, they notice they discovered that both their car and the U-Haul was gone.
And whoever stole their stuff was in for a surprise…
The thieves spotted the couple’s black Chevy Trailblazer and the U-Haul trailer attached to it and didn’t pass up the opportunity to steal it. They figured it’d be just another theft that they clearly are used to performing. They saw it sitting outside the hotel in New Mexico and figured a U-Haul being hauled across many states must have something valuable in it. They managed to break into the car and drive away, with the trailer still attached.
Driving a U-Haul is typically associated with a major life change. It’s known that someone taking a U-hail is either moving to a new place or carrying their belongings for some important reason. And this couple had a rather grim mission to carry out. Their journey was long and treacherous. The married couple that chose to remain anonymous was traveling from Oklahoma to Kirtland, New Mexico. At that point, driving along the New Mexico highway was becoming too much, and a stop at a local hotel was what they needed. But that decision to stop was a regrettable one.
Just a Regular Day
It was just another regular day at the Residence Inn in Albuquerque when the couple slid their SUV into the driveway along with its trailer. No one could imagine that this overly routine act of booking into a hotel would lead to such drama. The couple trudged in exhaustedly, hoping for a good night’s sleep. They had no clue what was to happen the next day. At that point, they were just glad they got a room without any problems.
While this couple slept deeply, criminals were up and about. On the morning of September 11, 2017, the travelers were beyond confused when they found out that everything they had was gone. The SUV, the trailer, and everything inside. Knowing what was inside, the couple felt as if their world was crumbling down. They were already in bad moods, and this just turned their journey into a never-ending nightmare.
Their decision to take a much-needed break was the perfect window for these thieves to do their illicit acts. What was so appealing to the thieves was the U-Haul attached to the vehicle. And if they wanted the trailer, they were going to have to take the SUV. The two basically came together in a package. So they went for it and id it quite professionally as they did so without anyone noticing.
Rental trucks and U-Hauls have been a common target among thieves. The trailers signify belongings and belongings mean that something of value will be found. The U-Haul is basically a portable trailer you would see on ‘Storage Wars.’ Though they’re always attached to vehicles, they are easy to snatch up.
Calling the Authorities
Although this may have seemed like an ordinary crime, the perpetrators said they’d never seen anything like what they discovered was in the unit. Around 4:30 a.m. of that morning, a hotel employee saw what he thought was a vehicle theft and called the police. He said they were driving a red Chevy Silverado pickup, but that wasn’t enough for the officers to go on.
But then our traveling couple yawned their way out of their hotel room at 8:30 in the morning and felt their hearts drop in panic. They immediately called the authorities, knowing that they simply must find their U-Haul. After the crime was reported, the police came quickly to investigate the area. According to an interview with police officer Tanner Tixier, the woman became “extremely emotional.”
A Disturbing Incident
Police officers encounter disturbing events on a daily basis, but sometimes incidents stand out for one reason or another. And this particular day was one of those events. The moment the cops learned what was going on, all the officers in the area were called to the scene. The officers interviewed the married couple, and they told them that what was stolen wasn’t exactly something you could put on display in your living room. They gave all the information the cops needed.
Police officer Tanner Tixier and other cops received the call that morning and quickly came to the hotel – the scene of the crime. Tixier explained how the case stunned the locals, even including themselves. They were determined to take control of the situation, and so a number of officers were put in a special team to scour the area in search of the missing vehicle and their trailer. They would turn every rock to find them.
Finally, They Found It
The cops eventually found the stolen property just within the city limits. The panicked couple was quickly informed that their trailer was spotted not too far away, and even quite close to their hotel.
To their luck, the thieves had abandoned everything. The cops immediately examined the SUV for any clues. The next thing they did was check the U-Haul and would see exactly why the thieves abandoned their mission.
The Reason Why
Why was the couple so distraught? Because they were transporting the wife’s father’s casket to New Mexico to bury him. “Clearly, his wife was extremely emotional, as her father’s body had just been stolen,” Tanner Tixier said.
“We immediately started allocating resources to try to find this vehicle, not only because it’s just a heart-wrenching story, but also you’re going to have the biosafety factors of having an unaccounted-for dead body.”
Upon discovering what was kept inside the U-Haul, the thieves chose to abandon ship. They decided to leave the SUV by the side of the road in a quiet neighborhood. The cops found the SUV near the Puerto del Sol golf course at Gibson and Girard SE.
Across the row of houses where the SUV and trailer were abandoned, Michael Ayers, a resident, came out to speak with the police officers. He wanted to share some comments and did so without hesitation.
Not an Unusual Scene
Ayers told the cops that he didn’t see anything strange about the situation. The cops asked why he said that, and he said that he just saw the car parked there that morning and it didn’t cause any suspicions.
Anyone who would have seen the trailer would easily assume that someone was shipping furniture or something like that. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to the residents of the neighborhood. Yet…
Hoping for a Quick Resolution
The owners and the police were hoping for a quick resolution, and they were glad that they didn’t have to wait for fingerprint identification and a dragged-out investigation. The cops also learned that the pickup truck was stolen.
With that information as a starting point in their investigation, they raced to find the pickup truck. Checking up their all their files, they filtered out the suspects and tried to zero in on the targets.
Development in a Flash
Later that day, the red pickup truck was found by the officers from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. The happened to start a hot pursuit down the 1-25 highway. The suspects refused to give up, even sneaking in and out of the city.
The cops were determined to catch them, but the suspects were fighting on. At a certain point, the driver of the red pickup tried swerving the car to shake them off. He was increasingly becoming a danger.
Progress Being Made
Officer Tanner Tixier spoke with the press to share some updates on their pursuit. He confirmed that a red Chevy had tried to hit a deputy. They realized that these guys meant business and strict measures were necessary.
The gang was running out of ideas of how to escape the cops. Eventually, the cops zeroed in on them and made the arrest. It was really just a matter of time before they would seize them. Cop chases always end at some point!
Making the Arrest
The thieves had long since fled by the time the cops found the stuff. But Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Felicia Maggard said in a public statement that three people were arrested.
They were arrested after a stolen red Chevy Silverado pickup truck almost crashed into an unmarked police car near Interstate 25 and Avenida César Chávez around 9:30 a.m. of that same morning.
The Trio of Thieves
After the long hunt, the police were finally able to capture three suspects: Daniel Gonzales, Jeremy Soliz, and Anthony Serna. They were charged with two counts of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and conspiracy to commit a 3rd and 4th-degree felony.
The police say 26-year-old Jeremy Soliz, 22-year-old Anthony Serna, and 22year-old Daniel Gonzales stole a truck and a U-Haul trailer early Monday morning. The official report noted that the trailer contained a casket carrying the body of one of the victim’s relatives.
Both of the vehicles were recovered, and all three suspects were sent to be held without bond at the metro detention center. And as it turns out, these were criminals already known to the authorities.
Prior to the U-Haul being stolen, there was already a warrant sent out for the arrest of both Serna and Gonzales. The driver of the manhunt was Jeremy Soliz, who was arrested on numerous felony charges, also including possession of burglary tools. Two other two were arrested for felony warrants.
A Foolish Mistake
The thieves committed the crime under cover of darkness. But they weren’t careful enough to cover their tracks. In fact, they did things too hastily and didn’t think of the basics, like using gloves.
Their lack of precaution resulted in their fingerprints being found all over the trailer. It was a sloppy job, and the police operatives must have secretly snickered at their errors. It was like leaving your ID at the crime scene.
They Waited for the Lab Results
The police officers had to gather more evidence against these three felons to make the capture legal and ensure that their case against them would be successful and complete. The officers decided to take their time.
It was best to await the lab results to find the link between the fingerprints and the suspects. This DNA evidence would solidify the case. Without scientific proof, their efforts could possibly end up in vain.
Soliz and Serna already had criminal records and had been arrested before but remained unreformed. They clearly didn’t hesitate to commit other crimes when they found an opportunity to do so.
Serna and Soliz were out on bail at the time for the same charge they were again facing: auto theft! With a history of drug possession, the new charges complicated their standings even more.
A Complicated Mess
The offenders being recidivists only made things harder for them, and the police were working tirelessly to keep them off the streets for as long as possible. This stupid decision to steal the couple’s car and the trailer were going to bite them in the butt.
As for Gonzales, he had recently been sentenced to drug court after pleading guilty to taking and transferring a stolen vehicle. The court then issued an arrest warrant when Gonzales stopped showing up.
Caught in a Mess
Soliz and Gonzales were also scheduled to present themselves in court the day after they were arrested. They were suspicious of Serna, who was separated from the other two and was set to appear before the judge in a week.
Soliz and Gonzales were surely grinding their teeth under pressure. They figured that Serna was secretly stitching them up. And that never goes over well in gangs and groups of criminals.
All three suspects were formally charged two days after their arrest for stealing the SUV and the U-Haul. Things were unraveling and, just as his two buddies suspected, it was Serna who informed the authorities of the location of the stolen belongings.
Soliz presented his dilemma to the authorities. He tried to convince the police that he had every intention of reporting what he’d found to the cops, but the other two stopped him. He worked hard on this story, hoping he would get more lenient sentencing.
According to their story, the three thieves thought they had struck gold when they found that trailer. The idea of finding valuables inside got them excited. They thought it was their lucky night. But how wrong they were.
They scrambled to rip open the trailer, but what they saw left them in shock. No furniture, no belongings, or anything of the sort. They did, however, see the coffin. They left the SUV where it stood and ran away.
Panic Set In
These three aren’t ones to get scared easily. They commit crimes for a living! But they were scared out of their wits to find a casket with a dead body inside of a vehicle they figured would be worth a lot.
Never would they anticipate finding a corpse. As panic set in, they all knew that this was not the mission they intended to embark on. And they knew it wasn’t the kind of theft they wanted to deal with. So they fled.
The Couple Was Waiting
So what about the married couple who were only trying to transfer the man’s body to where he was supposed to be buried? Well, they were waiting patiently while all the logistics were being settled out.
They were primarily worried about the body. She kept her fingers crossed that the thieves left her father’s body alone. She needed to make sure that her father would be buried with honor and respect.
Upon Finding Out
When the police informed her that their property had been found, she rushed to the scene to find out what the condition of her father’s body was in. Thankfully, it remained untouched. The body lay there peacefully.
But you can imagine her fear. Never in her wildest nightmares, would she imagine that her father’s casket would end up being involved in a crime and they would ever have to involve the police.
They Couldn’t Go So Easily
Even though the couple wanted to leave as soon as possible, and continue on their journey to bury her father, the police couldn’t let them go that easily. They weren’t in trouble for transporting the body, but the case had to be complete.
The police had to conduct all the necessary things, like dusting the vehicle and the trailer for the fingerprints. The process didn’t take too long, as they all respected the fact that the woman just wanted to proceed with her father’s funeral.
Back on the Road
Finally, after all the necessary data was collected and filed, the couple was finally free to go. The police had no reason to delay them any further. The couple was grateful that their property was intact, the body was intact, and the perpetrators were behind bars.
What happened to the couple was undeserved, but at least the criminals were quickly apprehended and now face the consequences of their actions.
Apparently, other people had lost extremely valuable things when their U-Hauls were stolen…
One Family’s Nightmare
A family moved to Kansas City, and within 24 hours, the U-Haul with everything they owned inside was stolen. It can be said that it was one of the worst Kansas City welcome wagons ever.
Paul Holmes, his wife Sabrina Holmes, and their two sons, Josiah, 11, and John, 7, moved to Kansas City in April were hauling all their belongings in a U-Haul. When they woke up 24 hours later, they discovered that everything was stolen — a theft they valued at close to $40,000.
A GoFundMe Page
A GoFundMe page was created by the couple’s real estate agent. The page was made on Sunday, and by Wednesday afternoon, it had reached about $4,000 of the $40,000 goal. On that Friday morning, Paul discovered broken glass in the spot where the U-Haul was parked at a local Days Inn and Suites.
It was the hotel that the family spent the night in. “I thought it was still there,” he said, “like somehow I was looking through it. My mind could not accept that it wasn’t there.”
A New Town, a New Job
The family had driven more than 300 miles from their home in Doniphan, Missouri. Holmes, who designs circuit boards and software, took his family to Kansas City for a job with a new start-up company.
He said the trailer was packed with all his work materials, including valuable circuit boards he knew would be simply worthless to the thieves. But what did they know? They see personal belongings and assume they can pawn them in for cash.
He Thought it Was Towed
Paul actually drove in on Thursday in the U-Haul with relatives that he was taking to the airport. He left the U-Haul at the hotel. It wasn’t until that afternoon when the Holmeses returned that they noticed that the 26-foot U-Haul and the 2012 Nissan Leaf were missing.
The Kansas City Police confirmed that they received a report of the theft and had surveillance photos of the U-Haul and the car. Holmes also reported to the hotel staff of the disappearance. “I told the people there,” he said. “I thought maybe it got towed,” Paul said the staff checked their security video and saw that the truck was driven away at about midnight.
Their Home in a Trailer
The trailer contained everything that a house has — living room furniture, beds, dressers, linens, kitchen supplies, bicycles, clothing, all the children’s toys, and more. And most importantly: family mementos and photographs.
The Holmeses canceled their homeowners’ insurance from their old house in Missouri before moving into the new one. The truck was the only thing insured, but none of its contents.
“I’m doing OK, as OK as I can be,” Sabrina said. “We lost a lot of stuff; things are given to me by my grandmother, things given to me by my mother. Things are given to us by our mother-in-law, who has passed. My baby pictures. Baby albums. Things you can’t replace. I’m praying we get it back.”
Valerie Fargas, their real estate agent, along with Glad Heart Realty, hosted the family for dinner after she heard of their emergency and then posted the GoFundMe page.
The Kansas City People
“It’s very sad,” Valerie said. “But you know the kindness of Kansas City people is shining right now. I’m really impressed right now. They are stepping in with a lot of love to help.” A family from St. Louis even donated some furniture.
Others donated clothes and other belongings to help the family out. Holmes said that he wondered if the move to Kansas City was a mistake. But then he saw the warmth of those who came to support them.
No Sign of the Thieves
Unfortunately, the thieves have yet to be found. Which is such a shame, because they need to be reprimanded for the damage they caused. Their GoFUndMe page is now at $14,000.
But Valerie said that as the family was really down, she told them, “You guys have to have a roof over your head somewhere. Where are you going to go?” They moved into their new home a few days later.