'I didn't think I would ever see this car again'; Coast Guard family gets back stolen vehicles

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Posted at 5:35 PM, Jul 13, 2022

NORFOLK, Va. — It's a wish come true! A crime of opportunity impacted one military family that was just moving from one assignment to another, which ended in their two vehicles being broken into and stolen. News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones spoke with the family, who shared their happy ending with us.

The Crandall family flew into Norfolk Wednesday morning and drove straight to an impound lot in Norfolk. Luckily, the family was able to take out their keys and drive away with their minivan and U-Haul trailer.

"I didn't think I would ever see this car again," said Matthew Crandall.

Crandall said he'll never forget this day. Not only were his vehicles found, so were the things inside — including precious heirlooms like his daughters' footprints and baby books.

"I had to fly out here at 3 in the morning to come pick up my stuff," Crandall said.

Crandall is in the Coast Guard and previously lived in Tampa, Florida. He and his family were heading to their next duty station in Massachusetts, but stopped in the Mermaid City to get some rest at the Navy Lodge. Their vehicles were stolen from outside — but were reported found on Tuesday.

"It was definitely ransacked and went through, but most of the stuff we cared about is still in there," Crandall said. "There's a couple things of jewelry missing, but those can be replaced pretty easily."

Less than 36 hours after our original story aired, Crandall says Norfolk Police called him and told him they found his vehicles in front of a Dollar General.

"Someone saw it and thought it was a little obscure to see, in the middle of Virginia, Texas plates on a minivan with the window broken in and the U-Haul bashed in."

But with the lock still on the U-haul, Crandall is taking $30,000 worth of possessions back home with him to Florida — the baby books, his daughters' footprints and his military accomplishments that he kept throughout the years.

"I'm so happy because being a military family, that's the one of the few things that we have for stability. We have the memories, we have the small items that we can hold onto throughout our moves."

The Crandalls can also hold onto the fact they're some of the lucky ones, heading back home with the items near and dear to their heart.

"I just want to say thank you to everyone who helped out. Even the news channel for putting this out and getting our story," Crandall said.

Crandall was completely overjoyed being reunited with his cars Wednesday, but this is still an active investigation.

We reached out to Norfolk Police, who said so far this year they've had 738 car thefts. In July alone, there have been 69 reported car thefts.