SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KTVU) - Moving into a new apartment can be stressful under the best of circumstances. But for U.S. Marine Sgt Rafael Aldama, his wife Alexis, and four-year-old Marisa, it's been a nightmare.
"It definitely got a little rougher for us," said Rafael Aldama.
The trouble happened last month when Aldama transferred from Camp Pendleton to Santa Rosa to serve as a Marine recruiter.
Aldama loaded all the family's possessions into this 20-foot U-Haul rental truck.
When he got to Santa Rosa, he couldn't unload until the next morning. So he parked in front of his apartment complex on Third Street overnight. But in the morning the truck was gone.
"It was pretty upsetting and frustrating that this actually happened. I couldn't believe it," said Aldama.
Police later found the truck a mile and a half away, but the thief or thieves took almost everything, including Marisa's toys, baby photos, and Alexis' wedding dress.
" I did want to keep it as a memory and treasure it and maybe pass it on. But I can't do that now," said Alexis Aldama-Mireles
"My plaques that I received from my time in the military..everything," said Aldama.
"We were pretty much left to sleep on the floor. They even took our beds. These people are ruthless." he added.
Aldama took a picture of the broken truck passenger door lock.
Police told the family they are checking the stolen U-Haul for fingerprints. Aldema and his wife have been looking to see if anyone is trying to sell their stolen items online.
" We've been looking around on Craigslist to see if they would sell it on there. But we haven't seen anything yet," said Aldama.
But there is bright side to this story. When word went out about what happened people, strangers, began donating thousands of dollars in cash and gift cards through the Wine Country Marines of Sonoma County, for new clothes and furniture.
"Extremely grateful and surprised in a way. These people don't know us. And to have people give us hundreds of dollars like that, it restores my faith in humanity," said Alexis. As for the thieves, Sgt. Aldama has this to say to them:
"Karma goes full circle. They will get theirs. That is something terrible to do to a family." he said.