Family’s U-Haul stolen with everything they own inside

An Army burial flag, hall of fame rings and Christmas gifts were among the furniture, household goods, and food items in the stolen U-Haul.

Eugene and Jamie Bruce’s aspirations for a fresh start in Arizona took a devastating turn when their U-Haul, containing all their possessions, was stolen during a stop at a hotel. Stripped of everything they owned, they find themselves left with only a white pickup truck purchased years ago in Phoenix and the clothes they wore.

“It’s an absolute nightmare,” expressed Eugene Bruce to CBS26, his voice fraught with despair. “A living nightmare.”

Having spent a decade in Mexico, Missouri, the family was heading back to the Valley, intending to settle after diligent saving and meticulous planning for Jamie Bruce’s impending retirement. Two years of savings were invested in new furniture, household essentials, and a six-month supply of provisions for their return to Phoenix.

Their journey began with hope and excitement, departing around 3 a.m. with heartfelt goodbyes exchanged. Yet, 15 hours into their drive, a stop at a Holiday Inn Express & Suites in Albuquerque, New Mexico—chosen for its perceived security—turned into a harrowing experience.

“We chose it for its gated premises and security, wanting a safe place to rest with our entire life in that U-Haul,” explained Jamie Bruce. Despite their precautions, a disagreement with the night clerk over parking policies left them with no choice but to station their vehicles, including the U-Haul, outside the hotel gate.

In the early hours, a devastating discovery awaited Jaime Bruce: the U-Haul was gone, leaving only shattered glass behind. Eugene Bruce, struggling to hold back tears, described the profound loss: “Our entire life was shattered. Everything we owned, gone.”

The stolen items included priceless family heirlooms—a cherished rocking chair dating back a century, quilts, and blankets passed down through generations, and irreplaceable mementos like baby pictures of their granddaughters. Also lost were Eugene Bruce’s treasured hall of fame rings from his induction into the Pacific Northwest Football League, and their father’s military flag, circulated among family members for years.

The theft extended beyond material possessions; the Bruces found themselves victims of identity theft, with personal documents from the U-Haul leading to unauthorized access to their bank accounts and fraudulent activity.

With Christmas approaching, the thieves even took away their family’s gifts.

Although the authorities recovered the U-Haul later, it was found empty at a nearby car wash, their belongings vanished. Amidst the turmoil, the Bruces express gratitude that no one was physically harmed.

“We’ll endure and emerge stronger,” asserted Jaime Bruce. “This won’t defeat us.”

Despite efforts to reach out to Albuquerque Police and the hotel chain, CBS26 received no response. A close friend initiated a GoFundMe campaign to aid the Bruces in rebuilding their lives after this devastating loss.

It’s a heart-wrenching tale of loss, resilience, and the sheer strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

A family friend created a GoFundMe account to help the Bruces get back on their feet, anyone interested in donating can click here.

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