NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - A cross country move to Middle Tennessee turned into a terrible ordeal for one family. Their moving truck was stolen with their belongings inside.
“We lived in Washington State for the last three and a half years,” Semra Thompson said.
Semra Thompson and her family were excited about the journey down to Murfreesboro from Vancouver, Washington, a city right on the Oregon/Washington Border. They made it here safely, but their belongings did not.
“They called us on Monday, after we got on the road to tell us one of the trucks was stolen.” Thompson said. “They left the truck at a loading dock, with what appears to be security beyond a locked gate, and just the whole truck.”
From family heirlooms, to her youngest daughter Violet's stuffed toy named ‘Owly,’ everything they had in the vehicle was suddenly gone.
"All our clothes and shoes. Violet: It was just all gone. Thompson: I know it was just all gone. But we'll rebuild,” Thompson told News 4.
Thompson called her insurance company to find out if there was anything they could do.
“And he said he’s been doing insurance for 15 to 25 years and he’s never had a claim like that. And in this year alone, I’m his third claim for a moving truck of some kind being stolen,” Thompson said.
News 4 reached out to the moving company Chipman Relocation and Logistics for comment. They issued the following statement from Vice President and General Manager Cliff Moore:
"Please understand that the safety and security of our customer’s goods is of the utmost importance to our organization. We have worked diligently to provide support to local authorities and have kept in close contact with the Thompson family, including providing a payment to cover their essential needs while the situation unfolded. We will continue to work with the Thompson family and our claims department to provide a swift resolution."
Moore released the following answers to News4's questions:
- The Thompson’s goods were on two trucks, and one of them was safely delivered.
- Chipman identified the trailer was stolen from a locked and gated parking lot on July 26. The truck was locked, and a tool that we believe was used to enter the locked truck was found by our staff.
- The Portland police department and the FBI were notified immediately, and a report was filed.
- The truck was found by the Portland Police Department on August 3. The police discovered that the thieves had broken the steering column of the truck, in order to drive without keys. A portion of the Thompson's household goods items were able to be salvaged, and they are now en route to TN.
- The Portland police department’s case remains open.
- Stolen trailers are not common, and this is the first one for our Chipman location.
Moore said this is "all the information that we have at this time. We will continue to communicate with the Thompson's as we learn more."
Despite the moving debacle, Thompson says her new Tennessee neighbors welcomed them, with open arms and compassion.
“My kids all have beds to sleep in now. They have dressers again,” Thompson said.
News 4 reached out to the Insurance Information Institute, a U.S. industry association that helps the public understand insurance, what it does and how it works.
A representative stated that they were not able to find any data to show that there is an uptick in stolen truck rentals across the country. They added, however, that before you move, make sure you have Off Premises Coverage for either your home or renters insurance.
Insurance Information Institute also provided tips for movers. For more information, click here.
News 4 also checked in with 5 major insurance companies to find out if they've noticed an uptick.
Roszell Gadson, APR Public Affairs Specialist from State Farm Insurance provided the following statement:
"We don’t have any specific stats to share regarding crimes occurring while moving.
But we can share the following context regarding how coverage works:
"Any personal property that is stolen out of a car (and in this case a moving van) is usually not covered under a Personal Auto Policy. The owner should look to their Homeowner’s policy for coverage. Customers are encouraged to check with their insurance agent or claim representative to determine if certain items are covered and to review their deductible. (Filing a claim under your homeowners insurance would be subject to your homeowners policy deductible.) Each claim is unique and handled based on its own individual merits."
You are welcome to use any of the information provided in the links I shared for consumer tips and you might stress the importance of checking with your agent to review how your coverage applies and protects you prior to any moves.
You may also consider checking with the Insurance Information Institute for an industry perspective on this topic, as they would be a good resource for trends involving the major insurers."
Amy Hart, who is a Specialist – External Communications for Farmers Insurance, provided the following information:
"Whether moving for a new job, to be closer to loved ones or for any other reason, people who are moving should be aware of the possible insurance coverage they may have to help if an unexpected event occurs. The following are some tips consumers may wish to consider when they are getting ready to move.
- Prior to moving, contact your insurance agent to learn about possible coverages you may already have to cover your belongings. In some circumstances, homeowners may have coverage for their personal property if it’s stolen from their owned or rented vehicle.
- Talk to your existing local insurance agent about your moving plans to assess if there are other insurance options to consider. For example, if you will be driving your vehicle across the country, you may want to discuss making adjustments to your auto insurance coverages.
- Inform your insurance agent located at your new destination about your moving plans and discuss any new or unique circumstances at your new home that you may not have considered, such as being in or near a designated flood hazard area. If your new home has not been upgraded in a while, you may want to consider adding building code upgrade coverage.
- Create a detailed home inventory list of your personal possessions. In the event of a loss from stolen or damaged property, the inventory list may help to speed up the claims process with your insurance company. These lists enable insurance companies to review a complete record of what was stolen or damaged, as well as the value.
- If hiring a professional moving company for the relocation, consumers should be aware of any special rules, guidelines and limitations that may apply to your property during a move. Professional movers may have insurance options you may wish to consider to replace or supplement any existing coverage you may have with your existing homeowners insurer. It’s important to discuss this with your current insurance agent to make sure you understand your options.
News 4 also reached out to major rental truck companies. Several politely declined to comment or did not get back to us in time for the story.