Monday, May 26, 2014

Seattle Musician and Wife Lose Everything After Their Moving Truck Is Stolen

Posted by on Mon, May 26, 2014 at 12:03 PM

Seattle musician Rafael Anton Irisarri (aka the Sight Below, half of the band Orcas) and his wife Rita, a clothing designer, were planning to move to Westchester County, New York today. They packed up their moving truck with all of their belongings and were intending to embark on the long journey to the East Coast on Memorial Day. Their plans have been majorly disrupted because their truck was stolen. Everything they own is gone, including all of Irisarri's masters, records, backups, instruments, recording gear, etc.

Irisarri wrote in an email:

[W]e filed a claim with the SPD, but since I got a lot of easily fenced electronics, I was hoping you could post something on the [blog] and just ask people to be on the lookout for high value musical instruments, computers and studio gear on Craigslist or Ebay in the Seattle area.

I'm planning to compile a list of my entire studio today and post to my website, hoping someone sees anything at a pawn shop or somewhere else. What an epically shitty way to exit the city I love!

The truck is a 2007 Ford 17' U-Haul, Arizona license plate #AD29272. Officer Grayson at the SPD is handling the case. Phone: 206.684.4300. Incident #2014-164711.

UPDATE: Here is what appears to be video of the theft.

UPDATE 2: The graphic on the side of the truck looks like this.


Irisarri is also the organizer of Substrata experimental-music festival, which is scheduled to happen July 17-19 at Chapel Performance Space.


Comments (40) RSS

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rob! 1
U-Haul thefts are extremely common—so common one could almost see some sort of data leak where theft rings figure out very quickly where all the recent rentals are parked, when they're loaded, and which are most vulnerable.

I didn't realize how lucky I was to have an uneventful move more than ten years ago. An expensive padlock on the cargo door isn't worth shit if the whole vehicle can be driven away to a hidden location for leisurely opening.

If you're planning on moving this way, brainstorm some ways to make stealing the vehicle and/or trailer a real PITA, including low-tech means like disconnecting the battery or removing plug wires.

U-Haul ought to be proactive and build in tamper-proof GPS trackers, but you can also do your own.………
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
Gern Blanston 2
U-Haul thefts seem to be quite common. You would think the company would want to do something to improve security on their vehicles, like installing alarms and GPS tracking.
Posted by Gern Blanston on May 26, 2014 at 1:26 PM · Report this
seatackled 3
That sucks. Hope someone who can help sees this post in the middle of all these Sasquatch posts.
Posted by seatackled on May 26, 2014 at 1:34 PM · Report this
rob! 4
Also, it stands to reason that U-Haul has a computerized list of all the key codes for all its vehicles, because they would need to rapidly move a disabled or recovered vehicle anywhere in the country if the keys were lost, without having to FedEx spare keys around—and they wouldn't necessarily know or care if that database was accessible by a theft ring working with a corrupt locksmith. It's the renter who's on the hook for the value of the truck (not to mention personal belongings) unless expensive additional insurance is purchased.

I don't know how car-rental places deal with these issues now given the increasingly sophisticated ignition systems of passenger cars (keys and fobs with embedded chips, etc.), but the U-Haul-type truck keys are still low-tech, so far as I'm aware. The larger trucks don't even have steering-column locks.
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 1:51 PM · Report this
Knat 5
@1, 2: Given the unscrupulous practices I've received from U-Haul every time I've dealt with them, it would not surprise me to find out that the employees are commonly members of such theft rings.
Posted by Knat on May 26, 2014 at 2:03 PM · Report this
rob! 6
Re: the video update, ask Irisarri to describe the graphic on the side of the rental, or identify it in this gallery and post a copy (I can't make it out in the video).

Sure, there might be some other rentals pulled over unnecessarily, but what the hell.
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 2:06 PM · Report this
rob! 7
Remember this? (Budget rental rather than U-Haul.)
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 2:18 PM · Report this
Last time I moved with a U-haul, I put a club on the steering wheel and rigged one of those screaming personal alarms that goes off when the connection is broken (tied fishing line from the driver door handle to the keychain I had hooked on the steering wheel). The screaming alarm went off at 4:00am when someone jimmied the driver door and opened it. The police came, a few neighbors were awakened, but my theft deterrent worked and I made it out of Phoenix with my stuff - and my sanity - intact. Uhauls are theft magnets.
Posted by StuckInUtah on May 26, 2014 at 2:23 PM · Report this
Dade 9
That's awful. My condolences, and I hope these folks get some of that irreplaceable stuff back!
Posted by Dade on May 26, 2014 at 2:27 PM · Report this
rob! 10
Way to go, @8! It's all about the PITA factor. "The Club" alone is notoriously useless—it's easy to hacksaw through the steering wheel itself and toss the lock aside—but a combination of visual deterrents, hassles, and noisemakers add up to prevention.

More theft stories and caveats:………
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 2:36 PM · Report this
levide 11
Fuck. And I mean that in the true sense of the word. Best of luck, Anton.
Posted by levide on May 26, 2014 at 3:10 PM · Report this
Call me Scott 12
Wait a minute. How is there occasional zoom on this video . . . it's not a surveillance camera. It's a personal video camera. So, who's operating the camera?
Posted by Call me Scott on May 26, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
rob! 13
Irissari tweeted that his rental truck had the Newfoundland/Giant Squid graphic:…

…in addition to the description/license plate posted above by Dave Segal.
Posted by rob! on May 26, 2014 at 3:41 PM · Report this
"Call me Scott", someone is making a video recording of the surveillance monitor.
Posted by Turns Out on May 26, 2014 at 3:46 PM · Report this
@12, it is a handheld recording of a security video playing on a monitor.
Posted by don't feel like logging in on May 26, 2014 at 3:47 PM · Report this
What area of town was the van stolen from? What was the address/street? Doesn't say anything about that.
Posted by TeddyNuge64 on May 26, 2014 at 4:01 PM · Report this
@12. exactly. this video is very strange.
Posted by balmontguy on May 26, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this

Remove the negative cable (black) from the battery and secure the cable so that it is not touching the battery or metal of the vehicle. The vehicle will not start with the cable removed.

Alternatively, you could just take the time to remove the whole battery, but removing the negative cable from the battery will suffice.

If a vehicle won't start, thieves will usually abandon their attempt to steal it.

Forcing a thief to waste time and effort is your best deterrent.
Posted by More Effective Than A Car Alarm on May 26, 2014 at 4:38 PM · Report this
Actually it is a surveillance cam. See the channel 2 in the corner. It's a video somebody took of the playback screen.
Posted by acac on May 26, 2014 at 4:52 PM · Report this
The truck was parked on Boyer Ave E in the vicinity of Portage Bay and Lynn St.
Posted by Dave Segal on May 26, 2014 at 4:53 PM · Report this
SPG 21
@12, It looks like it's being filmed off a screen with a phone for posting.
Posted by SPG on May 26, 2014 at 4:57 PM · Report this
McBomber 22
Moving trucks are definitely thief magnets. We moved to Seattle about seven years ago and parked the Penske truck in the alley. The truck had already been unloaded, but while we visited with our new neighbors - just next door! - thieves broke into our house to steal wallets, cell phones and some unpacked boxes near the door. The truck was untouched, but when we called the cops, they instantly pointed to it as the motivator and said "Welcome to Seattle!" Geez, we felt like naive country bumpkins.
Luckily, just before the move we had purchased renters insurance (at the urging of our car insurance provider) and all was covered. Apparently most renters policies cover your stuff even if it's still in the moving van, even if you're traveling.
Posted by McBomber on May 26, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
tharp42 23
Same thing happened to a couple I know who moved to LA some years back. On the eve of their move all their shit drove away. U-hauls are the fucking motherload for thieves and tweekers.
Posted by tharp42 on May 26, 2014 at 6:24 PM · Report this
I have little knowledge under the hood of a uhaul, & I would be scared I would dismantle something & break it--thus causing my move to be fail & having to pay uhaul to fix it----what can I do to prevent thieves from stealing my uhaul?
I am moving next month & will have literally everything I own in the back of a rental....can anyone give me recommendations on how to rig something up to keep thieves out? I'm nervous now!
Posted by Shawna B on May 26, 2014 at 6:38 PM · Report this
@24, don't park a loaded up UHaul in a residential area of Seattle overnight would be a start. If you have to overnight it, parking it in suburbia in the driveway of the house of a friend and then driving out to it in the morning might be safer.
Posted by ChefJoe on May 26, 2014 at 7:01 PM · Report this
In the age of digital masters and session recordings, please, please, PLEASE back that shit up.

Terabyte backup drives that can handle your whole library are available for under $120.

If you can't afford one, get creative with fundraising and sharing. Cooperation beats independent, self-reliance when you've reached the end of your own capacity.

Make at least three copies: one kept onsite, one stored offsite and one stored encrypted on a secured cloud drive. Rackspace has a secure cloud drive that is affordable, but with a tight budget Dropbox and Google Drive will do. Encrypt it, and upload it. You can even build your own cloud using open source software.

When you move, always backup your computers hard drive and encrypt the whole drive using open source software before packing it up. Ship your encrypted, backup hard drives sealed in well packed anti-static packaging (Staples or Uline) via FedEx (insured). If your budget is tight, use USPS Priority Mail.

Leave one encrypted backup of your hard drives and data with a trusted friend or family member so that not all of your computers, hard drives and backup drives are in transit during the move. They can ship it to you later or hold onto it for safe keeping.

For added protection, if you have the budget for it, ship your most important and valuable computer(s) and studio equipment via FedEx (insured) to a safe address at/near your destination.

This is your life's work. Please, please, please back it up.
Posted by Back It Up...Keep It Safe on May 26, 2014 at 7:08 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 27
How terrible. Augh. Your work here is heroic, rob!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on May 26, 2014 at 7:29 PM · Report this
It looks like UHaul will *sell* you an anti-theft device, but don't include it in their rentals:…
Posted by thatguy,youknow on May 26, 2014 at 7:39 PM · Report this
McBomber 29
@24, like I mentioned above, renters insurance saved our asses when our stuff was stolen. I think we payed around $30 for the policy. Of course it doesn't deter the actual theft, and you're still screwed if you lose something sentimental or original creative work, but might be worth considering if it fits your budget.
Posted by McBomber on May 26, 2014 at 7:41 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 30
@ Irisarri Family - I'm so sorry you had to leave Seattle like this. I hope the thieves are torn into tiny pieces by rabid badgers. With bees in their mouths.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 26, 2014 at 8:35 PM · Report this
@24, You could sleep in the cab of the UHaul after you've loaded up, or if you have a mechanically inclined friend you could ask them to do the battery thing for you. Or as another poster suggested, if you have a friend out in the suburbs who will let you park it in their driveway overnight, that would be somewhat safer.
Posted by JenV on May 26, 2014 at 9:03 PM · Report this

The Titan Grip Wheel Lock ( is a good wheel immobilizer. It's like a light version of the All Steel Wheel Clamp ( or "wheel boot" that some law enforcement use.

Locking the device around the driver side wheel will help deter thieves from stealing the vehicle. It's a visual and technical deterrent.

You can buy it online for less than $100, and its easy to use.
Posted by Thieves are lazy. Make 'em work for it, they'll move on on May 26, 2014 at 11:18 PM · Report this
Looks to be a Neighbor filming the video. What's up with that? Up @ 430am or part of the robbery? But why film? Strange.
Posted by xxxSeaJayxxx on May 26, 2014 at 11:58 PM · Report this
loganlorelai 34
Absolutely frustrating - there is a special place in hell for these type of people. I sincerely hope they get caught and serve most of their wasteful lives in prison. They look so f-in cavalier in the video. Really sorry Raf has to deal with this - he and his wife are amazing and kind people and don't deserve this.
Posted by loganlorelai on May 27, 2014 at 1:11 AM · Report this
they're zooming in on security cam footage. nothing is amiss.
Posted by joshplumridge on May 27, 2014 at 9:06 AM · Report this
Nordic 36
Absolutely devastating! Raf and Rita are longtime friends and I can tell you this could not have happened to two better human beings. PLEASE keep on the lookout online as much of Raf's gear is incredibly rare and will likely try to be sold via Craig's List.
Posted by Nordic on May 27, 2014 at 11:19 AM · Report this
That really, really s*cks.

Maybe if they go to City Hall Council meeting to discuss the crime Tim Burgess won't cut them off as he did to me...... even though I have worked with City Councilors on crime and housing matters!!!……

Insane. I wish them the best of luck in this.

Christopher King, J.D.
Posted by KingCast on May 27, 2014 at 12:54 PM · Report this
And did the bloke operating the camera call the police? Hop so. If not, why not?
Posted by KingCast on May 27, 2014 at 1:33 PM · Report this
TCLballardwallymont 39
No one is operating the camera. It's a recording of a security camera tape being played on a monitor. You can see the edges of the monitor at some points.
Posted by TCLballardwallymont on May 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM · Report this
I remove some key fuses. That and a club work well.
I had my car with an accordion stolen out of my apt complex locked below ground garage. In three minutes after leaving it to go upstairs for one more thing. It had all my written music in it too.
Starting over. Weirdly some of the music was found dumped with my neme on it and I got it back months later. So so so sorry for anyone going through this.
Maybe if the economy was not sobad
Posted by Rupert's on May 29, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this

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