A dream vacation for Blake Brown’s Lehi family ended in turmoil when their flight arrived at the Salt Lake City International Airport.
The Brown family had parked their car on level three in the covered parking garage, but when they returned, the car wasn’t in the parking spot. “I remember where we parked because I took a picture of the parking stall,” said Brown.
The airport parking attendant found a vehicle that matched the description of Brown’s car parked on the fifth floor of the same parking garage. This seemed even more strange when the Browns realized their vehicle had been burglarized.
“I saw our glove box, our center console, we didn’t have any valuables there, they just ripped the whole car apart, and it made me think, why didn’t they just take the car? What were they looking for?” said Brown.
That burglary was the beginning of a vicious crime spree. As thefamily arrived home, the Browns found their home had been broken into. The suspects used the garage door opener from their vehicle parked at the airport to enter their garage. The Brown family believes the suspects found their home address from the vehicle registration in the glove compartment.
The Brown’s home had been ransacked. Property was missingand damaged. Every room was in chaos, with stains on the furniture and the carpets.
“They took my Social Security card, my birth certificate, and opened up two credit card accounts under my name,” said Brown.
The suspects also took the Browns’ second car. Through an app on his phone, Blake tracked the location of his vehicle to a parking lot in Sugar House. Blake traveled to the site. “I confronted the thieves, who sped off and later abandoned our vehicle,” said Brown. The Salt Lake City police are investigating the car theft.
“The police found drug needles in the car, and now it is being tested for harmful substances.”
The Brown family installed a security system in their home this week and are having it professionally cleaned. “We are going through the motions of one problem at a time,” said Brown.
After discovering the damage and theft, the family “went on a family vacation, to the home of grandparents, to a hotel. Schedules and life have been really thrown off,” he added.
The Brown family has learned to lean on family and friends for help during this difficult time.
“The first week after our vacation was difficult. My wife took this whole ordeal really hard. We have had a roller coaster of emotions, from anger to despair to sadness. It was so emotional when my wife and I saw the damage to our home. There seem to be so many problems to solve,” said Brown.
He feels there are important steps that people can take to protect their property and their identity. Brown recommends “taking an Uber to the airport or having someone drive you. Also, update your vehicle registration not to include your home address and don’t leave your garage opener in your car. Keep it with you.”
Brown also suggested keeping all personal and private documents in a safe deposit box at a bank and installing cameras on your property to keep your home safe. “Do the best you can to protect your personal information as well,” he said.
The most important lesson learned through this ordeal for Brown is to “get to know your neighbors, talk with them and work together as a neighborhood to keep your homes safe. Watch out for each other and have a neighbor look in on your property when you are away. Have someone grab your mail or your packages, if possible. We can help each other be safe.”
Brown has been flooded with feelings of gratitude. He is grateful for the support and assistance he and his family have received from many people. “We have felt loved by the goodness of others,” said Brown.
“This experience has really put life into perspective. Our stuff can be taken and replenished, but we could never replace each other. My family is safe, and that is the most important thing.”
“This has been so difficult and has turned our lives upside down,but if sharing our story helps just one family, it will all be worth it,” he added.