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Parking lot theft wipes out couple’s lifetime of possessions

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Ralph Minnicozzi retired from his job in New Hampshire two weeks ago, and last Friday he filled a 20-foot U-Haul truck with all his belongings and made his way across the country to join his wife in their new home in Arizona.

Minnicozzi was six hours from the journey’s end when he stopped for the night in Albuquerque.

Thieves struck early Tuesday.

“Someone just stole our entire life,” he said. “I was crying earlier, but I’m past crying now. I’m just angry.”

Minnicozzi said the U-Haul, which he parked at the Fairfield Inn at Gibson and Yale SE, was packed with his bicycle, tools, furniture, diabetes medication, a lifetime of documents, antiques, pottery and several valuable pieces of art. He had been towing a trailer carrying his pickup truck behind the U-Haul, and that was also stolen.

Tuesday afternoon, the Sandoval County sheriff’s deputies found Minnicozzi’s trailer and pickup truck abandoned near Rio Rancho, he said. The pickup had been damaged but was repairable. The U-Haul and all his belongings are still missing.

Although Minnicozzi said it is a pain to replace household goods, tools and electronics, it is the loss of his antiques and art that tears him apart.

He had been planning to pass down the artworks to his children and grandchildren as their inheritance. The art included works by Joan Miró, Alfred Gockel and Autumn de Forest.

“There’s nothing these guys are going to be able to do with it,” he said. “They can’t sell art; people are going to know what they are. It’s stuff we had an emotional attachment to that you can’t replace.”

Albuquerque police didn’t respond to questions about the case, including whether they have any suspects.

But Brad Merrill, general manager of the Fairfield Inn, said hotel employees have surveillance footage they believe shows the incident and have given it to police. “We’re working with police and with security to do what we can,” Merrill said.

APD spokesman Fred Duran didn’t respond to questions about how many thefts have been reported at area hotels recently or how many officers or detectives work on these cases.

It is, however, a common story around the city.

Just three weeks ago, a couple staying at a Northwest Albuquerque hotel reported their U-Haul and SUV had been stolen, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court. Police arrested the suspect in that case and recovered most of the couple’s belongings.

In late May, the Journal published a letter to the editor from a man who said he had been staying at a Northeast Albuquerque hotel with his wife when half of their belongings were stolen from their SUV.

And this week, a Bayfield, Colo., man wrote a letter saying that his vehicle was broken into on Tuesday as his family dined with his daughter in Albuquerque before she was sworn in and sent off to basic training after enlisting in the Army.

Minnicozzi said he plans to warn travelers online against staying in Albuquerque and he hopes that he never has to return here.

His wife came to pick him up Tuesday, and by Wednesday afternoon the couple had left the city, heading to a new home in Arizona that is furnished with nothing but a love seat, a couch, a bed and two pans.

“I can’t afford to start all over,” Minnicozzi said. “We have a six-hour ride in front of us, and we’re going home to nothing other than each other.”


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