Army veteran moving to Bay Area surprised after having all of his possessions stolen

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ByDion Lim via KGO logo
Tuesday, November 5, 2019
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An Army veteran who was relocating to the Bay Area for a new job had all of his possessions stolen. Little did he know he was going to be presented with the ultimate surprise.

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- Army veteran Jonathan Munoz and his wife Raquel were excited to start their new life in the Bay Area. Jonathan had just accepted a job at the VA Hospital in San Francisco. They had found the perfect apartment.

TAKE ACTION: Help for veterans of all eras, and their families

But then the unthinkable happened. Not even more than 10-years in the military and four tours in the Middle East could prepare this couple for what happened-- or for the sweet surprise in-store from an unexpected place.

In a barren apartment in Petaluma, Jonathan points out the few possessions he has left. A closet nearly empty of clothes except for a pile of socks and a newly purchased comforter and bed sheet on the ground. This was not how things were supposed to go.

Jonathan and Raquel's transition from Las Vegas to finding a new apartment in the Bay Area didn't get off to a smooth start.

"Our hotel we were staying at in Windsor called saying our reservations were canceled because of the fires so we had to make changes." Says Jonathan.

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The couple landed at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel in Pleasanton.

"Hilton is a brand of hotel I always like and I always trusted. We had this 20-foot Uhaul--I checked in with the receptionist, they let us go in the back of the hotel and park there."

On the last night of a nearly week-long stay and apartment hunt, they found the perfect place to live in Petaluma. But on the morning of their move, Jonathan went outside and was greeted by an unexpected and tragic surprise.

"I went out there and the Uhaul was gone," says Jonathan, with tears in his eyes.

The entire contents of their three-bedroom, Las Vegas home in that Uhaul had been stolen.

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"I have my own issues stemming from my military service. All my medical records are in there, my uniforms. Everything that was military was in there including the bronze star I was awarded."

But suddenly, during our interview, a knock on the door and a well-dressed man, clad in khaki pants and pressed blue check shirt bounds inside the apartment. Jonathan is stunned.

"Hi there! My name is Franco from Alaska Airlines and we heard about your story and want to make your life a little happier with four round-trip vouchers to anywhere Alaska flies!"

Jonathan is stunned.

"Just blew me away. It's very generous. It's unexpected. We're going to be so focused on getting a couch and a bed...I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to use those tickets to try and get away. I'm extremely grateful. It's the most generous thing I can possibly think of so I really appreciate it."

Just one day earlier, Jonathan had planned to fly back to Las Vegas with Raquel to begin putting his life back together. Not to give up, but to regroup and figure out the next steps of what to do. He agreed to change his flight to a later date so he could do an interview with us at ABC7 News and get his story out so this type of crime doesn't happen to anyone else.

When we called Alaska Airlines to see if Jonathan's ticket change fee could be waived, they decided to go above and beyond.

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"We really care about the community and for many years Alaska Airlines has been dedicated to our veterans." Smiles Franco as he wraps Jonathan in a bear hug.

The General Manager of the Doubletree says they are now evaluating the idea of adding cameras to their parking lot in the future and will refund Jonathan for his hotel stay. Pleasanton Police are also combing the surrounding area for surveillance video and say this type of crime is rare for the area.

Meantime, Jonathan is just looking toward the future, hoping to rebuild in his new surroundings.

"We don't want to give up. We still want to live this life and we still want to do the work that we're coming out here to do. It's just going to take time."

If you'd like to help this disabled veteran and his wife get back on their feet, here's a link to a GoFundMe page set up for them by a friend.