Shattered glass is all that remained of the U-Haul truck and the dark green Durango the Sturm family left in the parking lot of the Johnson Floor and Home Carpet One store on South Garnett Road in Tulsa Friday night.
Those two vehicles held all the belongings of Jesse and Wendy Sturm, and their two sons, ages 2 and 8 months, except for the clothes they were wearing and their chocolate lab and pet cat.
“So many emotions and nothing can come close to how we feel,” said Wendy Sturm in an interview Tuesday. “Betrayed, lost, heartbroken, angry, and so many more.”
The Sturms stopped in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for a wedding during a military move from Fort Drum, N.Y. to Fort Hood, she said.
The family parked in the lot next to the Homewood Suites Hotel where they were staying because the department store parking lot better accommodated their U-Haul truck with their Durango in tow, Strum said.
The U-Haul and the family’s Durango were both covered by insurance, according to Wendy Sturm, but all of the family’s household goods were stolen, and without renters insurance, none of the contents of the vehicles were covered.
“The Durango had full coverage and the children’s car seats will be replaced, but everything else is pretty well lost,” Sturm said. “Our sleeper sofa was only a year old and many sentimental items have been taken.”
The moving truck was found a couple hours after being reported stolen to police on Saturday, Sturm said, but the Durango has not yet been recovered. Most of their belongings in the U-Haul had been removed when the truck was found.
“A witness saw a U-Haul with Arizona plates pull into an apartment complex,” said Sgt. Glen Moore with the auto theft department of the Tulsa Police Department. “The witness told police a tall man was seen walking away from the vehicle and an older woman later came to the back and looked through the things in the truck.”
No suspects have been identified at this time, he said.
“I will say that U-Haul trucks are high theft items — especially in hotel parking lots,” Moore said. “Obviously thieves know that there is stuff inside them that may or may not be valuable. It happens fairly regularly, it’s definitely not uncommon.”
The driver-side window of the Sturm’s U-Haul had been shattered, and both the steering column and ignition had been tampered with, Moore said. Although the back door had a lock, the door was found open, and only a few empty boxes and odds and ends were left behind.
While the truck hauled furniture and other items that may be used or sold for money, Sturm said she is particularly heartbroken over the family’s sentimental items that cannot be replaced.
“The remainder of my Nana’s ashes, the family Bible, a cookbook a couple of generations old from my grandmas as well as a duffle bag of yarn in which were some projects my grandma made — she passed in 2001,” Sturm said, describing recounted the personal items that vanished with their family vehicle.
“Even the baby books for our boys: handprints, footprints — everything,” she said. “The washer, dryer, couch, tools, lawnmower… can all be replaced. Those things of the boys, they cannot.”
Sturm said a personalized keepsake from the gymnastics students she left behind at Fort Drum was also missing.
“My husband had a gun rack he and his dad made years ago that was in there, too,” Sturm said. “Along with all the books our 3-year-old just got for his birthday last month.”
In the wake of the theft, Sturm said she and her family have been blessed by friends, family and strangers, alike.
“The support we have had from so many people reaching out to us, wanting to help us out has been absolutely amazing, relieving and overwhelming all at the same time,” Sturm said.
More than $7,000 in donations have come through the Sturms’ GoFundMe account, but they have also received second-hand furnishings and gift cards for supplies like diapers and wipes for the children.
In addition to food items, bedding, baby furniture and toys, the Sturms’ dog and cat beds were stolen, Sturm said. Their chocolate lab seems particularly sad without his bed, she added.
“We are staring at square one with documents, furniture, food, etc.,” Wendy said. “Which is all incredibly difficult; financially, mentally and emotionally.”
To donate to the Sturm family, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/Sturm-Family