A couple whose U-Haul van loaded with their belongings was stolen from Abbotsford and found empty in Surrey earlier this month has been reunited with most of their items after a police bust late last week.
The U-Haul contained the possessions of a young couple, Sabrina and Nathan, who were moving to Vancouver from Moncton, New Brunswick, for job and educational opportunities.
The Ford E-450 cube van was reported stolen at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 12 from a park-and-ride lot at Lonzo Road and Sumas Way in Abbotsford.
The van was found the next day in the parking lot of the South Surrey Recreation Centre, but it had been emptied of all its contents, including furniture, clothing, appliances, wedding gifts/mementoes, a bass guitar, and a quilt and handmade tool box with “tremendous sentimental value.”
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said the location of the missing items came about after the Lower Mainland district’s integrated road safety unit (IRSU) arrested a 39-year-old man last Thursday in a stolen vehicle at a residence in the 17300 block of Fourth Avenue in Surrey.
The driver, Michael Urbaniuk, was wanted on outstanding warrants and was also charged with driving while prohibited and possession of stolen property.
Further evidence was gathered, resulting in police obtaining and executing a search warrant at the residence.
IRSU, the Surrey RCMP crime reduction unit and the police Air 1 helicopter converged on the property on Friday.
Several other people on the property were also identified and are under investigation.
Discovered on the property were 12 stolen vehicles and the contents of two stolen U-Haul trucks – including the one from the young couple – all valued at an estimated $250,000.
The other U-Haul had been stolen from Surrey, but MacDonald said he did not have any details on that particular theft.
He said the vehicles had been stolen from locations that included Abbotsford, Mission, Maple Ridge and Surrey.
Included in the recovery were most of the belongings of the young couple. They were reunited with their property over the weekend, although some irreplaceable wedding items
and other possessions are still missing.
“We sincerely hope for nothing but happiness for Sabrina and Nathan as they properly settle in and become part of our Lower Mainland community,” MacDonald said.