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Locals help Army veteran whose moving van was stolen at Pleasanton hotel

Van containing couple's entire belongings, including his Bronze Star, taken overnight on Halloween

Pleasanton residents have organized a donation drive to help a decorated Army veteran and his wife who just moved to the Bay Area, after all of their belongings were stolen from the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel last week.

Jonathan Munoz and his wife Raquel were in the process of putting down roots in the region after leaving their old city of Las Vegas for his new job at the VA Hospital in San Francisco, when all of the couple’s contents inside their U-Haul rental truck were stolen from the DoubleTree parking lot during the early morning after Halloween.

"They just got away with stealing our stuff and there’s nothing that can really be done about it,” Munoz told the Weekly on Friday. All of their furniture, important documents like Raquel’s business plan and Jonathan’s military records and medical documents for several combat-related disabilities, and the Bronze Star that he was awarded after his last tour in Afghanistan had vanished.

The couple have also lost hope of ever finding their stolen possessions since the hotel did not have surveillance cameras outside. “The police called it an inactive case,” Munoz said. “There’s nothing to look for so they’re just hoping that someone reports an abandoned truck at some point.”

A friend created a GoFundMe page for the couple that’s raised over $6,000 so far and helped him and his wife order replacement documents for their birth certificates, marriage license and passports, and buy new work clothes. They also hope their homeowners insurance will cover the loss because “U-Haul doesn’t offer insurance for theft, so even though I paid for all of this, it’s the one thing they can’t cover,” he said. “Our homeowners insurance is still trying to figure out what they will cover.”

Total strangers like Pleasanton resident Sandy Myers are also pitching in, who organized a donation drive for the Munoz family at the U-Haul facility on Sunol Boulevard this weekend. After hearing about their ordeal on the news, Myers and her friends, including some members from the local Rotary chapter, sprung into action. The group reached out to the owner of the UHaul site, who agreed to donate a unit for the cause.

“It’s extremely overwhelming but in a positive way,” Munoz said. “It’s helped us get out of that depression just a little faster, I think, the community reaching out, being that light at the end of the tunnel, trying to help us through so instead of being alone with all this pain.”

Jonathan and Raquel have been staying with his mother back in Las Vegas since the theft but are planning to “pay it forward” once they’re settled into their new Bay Area home. “These donations will help us start having a normal life,” he added. “We totally plan on paying it forward. We’re just looking for necessities so everything in excess, we’ll be paying forward to other veterans organizations.”

The group is asking “the good people of the Pleasanton community to help out” by giving specific items to replace those that were stolen last week. An itemized list of requested items are posted on the Pleasanton Community Facebook page.

A donation drive took place Nov. 9 and 10 from at the U-Haul storage center, 5555 Sunol Blvd., Unit 202. Cash donations can be made at https://tinyurl.com/y2pj3p92.

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