This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
So far, the Dunbar family's first days in Utah have not matched the state's positive image of volunteerism, industry and community.
Since arriving on Friday, the former Texas clan has lost nearly everything they own. Instead of meeting new neighbors and learning the routes to their children's schools, they have spent their time on the phone with police, banks and insurance companies.
Their nightmare began to unfold Saturday when they noticed that the Budget moving truck they had rented was missing from the parking lot of the Extended Stay motel where they were staying until their new home in West Jordan is available. Attached to the truck on a trailer was one of their cars, a dark blue Volkswagen Jetta. Both the truck and Jetta had been jammed with the contents of their home and mementos of their life.
At first, Larry Dunbar thought the motel might have had the truck towed. It was reasonable to think that after being stretched across a bank of parking spaces for two days that someone might have wanted it removed. But then Dunbar and his two sons, ages 11 and 14, spotted a pry bar, a machete and a sledge hammer tossed into the bushes. "That's when we knew that it was gone," Dunbar said.
Dunbar, who works in the semiconductor industry, said he moved his family here after accepting a new job. For several months he has listened to a friend tout Utah's strong points, the most important of which was a safe place to raise a family. He finally gave in, accepted the new position and crammed everything he owned into the rented truck.
With efficiency in mind, Dunbar and his wife, Magdelini, packed three outfits for each person in one suitcase - one outfit for each day they expected to be in a motel. It's all they have left, Dunbar said. Crushed about the theft, the family struggled to carry on with the tasks of moving to a new area, including getting the boys to school Monday morning.
While shopping for new school supplies and clothing Sunday afternoon, the Dunbars got a phone call from police. The truck, the trailer and the car had been spotted behind stores at the Brickyard Plaza in Salt Lake City. Employees of the nearby Brickyard Kennels said they saw it as early as 7:30 a.m. Sunday. News reports Sunday afternoon broadcast the description of the truck and car.
The family hoped that their things might be recovered but the only item still inside the truck was Dunbar's motorcycle - the one thing his family had harped on him for years to get rid of, he said.
The recovery of the truck was a relief, he said, since insurance would only cover about half its $50,000 replacement cost. But seeing it there empty seemed only to drive home the pain of their loss.
"We're not completely sure we're staying in Salt Lake City," Dunbar said.