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Man says U-Haul repossessed truck, believing it abandoned, dumped contents

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Posted at 7:56 AM, Sep 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-16 07:59:04-04

CLEARWATER, Fla. — A man says U-Haul mistakenly repossessed a truck with his and his wife's belongings inside.

Stan Brown and his wife used the truck to move from St. Louis to Florida.

They arrived before they could move into their new home, so they paid to keep the truck parked in a lot at a nearby hotel.

When they went to get the truck, it was gone. It had everything they own inside, from clothes to furniture to irreplaceable family mementos. They reported to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office that the truck was stolen.

The company told them they thought the truck had been abandoned and repossessed it, putting the contents in a local dump.

A statement from the company provided to Fox station WTVT states:

Following media reports on Wednesday of an apparent moving truck theft in Clearwater, our local management team investigated. What we learned is that a truck rented by the Brown family, which was on a valid contract, was mistakenly identified as abandoned equipment and repossessed by our local team on Sept. 2. This was the result of human error stemming from a clerical mistake in our system that listed the same equipment number on a separate active contract in another state. The contract with the clerical mistake was referenced when the equipment was spotted in a Clearwater hotel lot, leading a local Team Member to believe it had been abandoned.  

The Browns’ equipment and possessions were held at a U-Haul rental location for 10 days, from Sept. 2 to Sept. 12, while our team tried unsuccessfully to reach the customer on the contract. Unfortunately, our team was referencing the incorrect contract and attempting to contact the incorrect customer.  

U-Haul management has been in contact with the Brown family. Our U-Haul Company of Clearwater president visited the family on Thursday morning to deliver several boxes of personal contents that were kept when their larger items were disposed.  

Our Company intends to do right by the Brown family and make them whole for our mistake and the possessions they lost. This was an extremely rare and regrettable series of events for which we take full responsibility. We have offered our sincerest apologies to the Browns, and we thank them for their understanding.

Brown said he and his wife are working with U-Haul to recover some of the items. Five boxes of personal items have been delivered to the Browns.

The family says this represents only about a quarter of what was loaded onto the truck.

"U-Haul had told us that their employees would not/did not go through boxes, but one of these five boxes is a compilation of four other boxes," Stan Brown said in a written reply. "Either U-Haul or PC Solid Waste employees did go through boxes. We definitely wonder how much of our belongings and information did not make it into the incinerator and are in someone's hands and not ours."