U-Haul stolen with Oakland music teacher's instruments and life inside

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- An Oakland woman, relocating to take a new job, is going through a nightmare. A U-Haul truck containing most of her belongings was stolen from in front of her business the night before the move. Later, the truck was found, but her stuff is gone.

Jennifer Trowbridge has a PhD in music from Northwestern. For the past two years she's taught guitar in a small studio near Lake Merritt. But a month ago she landed a new gig, lecturing at Humboldt State University.

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On Aug. 10, she rented a 20 foot U-Haul truck to move the next day.

"So I loaded up 11 musical instruments, my bed, bedding, sofa, lamps," she said.

She left it parked out front. But, the next morning it was gone. Along with the truck, thieves got away with several guitars, a couple of banjos, a bass, clothes, and text books.

"The instruments are completely irreplaceable. I mean three of them were 100 years old. They were from my family. They don't have a big monetary value, but they have an enormous sentimental value," she told ABC7 News.

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Police found the truck ten days later in Hayward. But, the thieves did leave something bizarre behind, a tool box filled with kitchen tools, including a cake decorating tool Jennifer was told could be used to defeat the ignition system and allow the truck to start.

We contacted U-Haul to see how common these sorts of thefts are.

In a written response, the company said it does not talk publicly about vehicle thefts.

The statement went on to say: "We do employ a robust investigations unit that works closely with law enforcement."

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They further advise renters "to park in well lit areas, within view of security cameras. Lock doors to the truck cab and place secure locks on the rear doors of trucks and trailers."

Jennifer says she did take precautions, and she will continue to bug U-Haul about putting alarms and better anti-theft devices on their trucks.

"Yes I suffered this huge loss, but if I can just save one person or even hundreds from experiencing what I experienced then I could be helping them," she said.

Here is U-Haul's full statement: We do not make equipment theft records available to the media. We do employ a robust investigations unit that works closely with law enforcement to see that individuals engaged in criminal acts involving U-Haul equipment are captured and brought to justice.

We certainly can't speak to the tools a criminal would require to commit vehicular theft or any other illegal act.

We are happy to offer tips our customers can take to reduce the risk of equipment and property theft when moving. These tips include: always park in well-lit areas and within view of security cameras; lock doors to the truck cab and the place secure locks on the rear doors of trucks and trailers; place secure locks on the chains connecting your vehicle to a trailer so the chains cannot be easily disconnected; back up your truck or trailer to a garage, wall or other solid barrier so that possessions cannot be unloaded without the equipment being moved; avoid leaving your equipment unattended or parked in areas of town where crime is prevalent; avoid lending your equipment to other parties or providing keys to someone you do not know; and follow precise instructions for equipment pick-up and return.
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