San Francisco family has loaded U-Haul stolen night before move to LA to help elderly relative

Dion Lim Image
ByDion Lim via KGO logo
Saturday, March 9, 2019
EMBED <>More Videos

It's a crime that happened to a San Francisco woman and her fiancé just days before a second incident happened not far away.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Imagine packing your entire life into a U-Haul to help an elderly family member-- only to have it taken away in a brazen crime. It's a crime that happened to a San Francisco woman and her fiancé just days before a second incident happened not far away.

We met Christen Vidanovic at her Sunset district home in San Francisco in February before her big move to Los Angeles. She had watched the Marie Kondo Netflix show on tidying up and was in the process of selling some items at a garage sale. Nearly everything else in her home was packed into a U-Haul.

"My fiancé Aaron even packed up everything he owned from his workshop. He's an amazing woodworker."

The move to Southern California would mean being closer to Christen's elderly father. Christen's fiance's workshop tools would be used to help fix up her dad's property.

Christen and Aaron took what they thought were precautions to keep their belongings safe.

"We were going to be towing my car, so we put my car on the dolly to that the dolly wouldn't get stolen."

But when they woke up the next morning and looked outside? The entire U-Haul, along with their white Prius was gone. Thanks to social media and a neighbor, surveillance video was handed over to San Francisco Police. In the video, a clear view of not only the U-Haul but the sedan, whizzing through the neighborhood.

"I couldn't imagine this happening in the sunset! We know everything is going to be okay, but I cried my face off that day," says Christen.

While SFPD says U-Haul thefts aren't uncommon, stolen trucks are generally empty so crooks can transport scrap metal or other contraband items. Shortly after Christen's loaded Uhaul was stolen, another full van was taken, not far away.

Even if you don't have a garage, both a U-Haul spokesperson and the public information officer for SFPD say there are simple ways to prevent this from happening.

Sgt. Michael Andraychak recommends, "Park the truck or van in such a way that you can block it in place with another vehicle... that would make it very difficult for somebody to drive that van out."

Christen estimates the stolen items are valued at around $30,000, but it's losing the sentimental things that hurt the most.

"I'm a photographer so I lost all my film negatives-- six hard drives worth of photography and I also have my journals. Your birth certificate, your photos, memories, everything that you own represents yourself and your identity of self."

While the case is still under investigation and it's not known if the culprits were tipped off from the movers, Christen isn't taking any chances in the future.

"I would just be extra private and really secure about moving because people are watching and getting very brazen."

Friends and family have helped with Christen and Aaron's GoFundMe so the couple can get buy tools to help Christen's father get his property fixed up sooner than later.