U-Haul stolen, ransacked in Jacksonville

Austin Bembridge’s U-Haul was stolen from a Jacksonville hotel parking lot over the weekend. He recovered it Monday ransacked with valuable items gone.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Austin Bembridge woke up Sunday morning in Jacksonville a little over five hours from his final destination. 

U-Haul keys in hand, he went to his hotel’s parking lot, where his heart sunk. 

“Every step I made I could see more a parking space; another parking space and I knew I left three or four in front of the truck, and I had counted five or six and that’s when I started feeling the truck is gone,” Bembridge said. 

Bembridge says he immediately confirmed his hotel did not tow his U-Haul and reported it stolen to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The hotel did not have surveillance cameras outside. 

He was transporting lifelong memories and priceless items for close friends Diane and Bill Rigley. The couple is moving from the Outer Banks to Naples. 

“You can’t replace something that’s so sentimental so it’s devastating.” Bembridge said. 

“They packed up their whole home from North Carolina for one last move to Naples and you know there’s valuable items 50-70 year’s worth of age in that truck.” he added. 

JSO called Bembridge Monday afternoon saying it had recovered the U-Haul and was having it towed to a nearby U-Haul facility. 

Bembridge said JSO told him the catalytic converter was removed from the vehicle. When he arrived, he discovered the contents of the U-Haul ravaged with pieces of broken memories strewn all over. 

He said he’ll spend the rest of the day picking up the pieces before heading to Naples with some lessons learned. 

“Do your research on where you stay, I thought I did. Exterior surveillance is very important possible tracking devices you know pack a tracking device in a box.” Bembridge said. 

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