Washington Coast Guardsman has all possessions stolen during move

Coast Guardsman Paul Irwin stands by his car in Seattle. While all of his possessions were stolen during a move, police recovered his car and a few of Irwin's belongings. Image courtesy Brenda Welding

A man who served in the Coast Guard for 10 years was robbed of all of his belongings last week after parking a packed U-Haul on a Seattle street in preparation for his early morning move.

Paul Irwin, 34, is making a transition from active duty in Washington to the Reserves in St. Louis, Mo., so that he can pursue an undergraduate degree and live closer to his mother, two brothers and “a lot of nieces and nephews,” he said.

Irwin had about a week to move out of his Seattle apartment, act as the best man in a wedding and then get to St. Louis in time to start classes on Aug. 20.

His solution was to stay with his newly-married friend and use the Monday after the wedding to pack all of his belongings into a U-Haul trailer so that he could start his cross country trip early Tuesday morning.

However, when he woke up on Tuesday, the U-haul and his car were gone, Irwin said.

“I was sleeping 30 feet away from where the truck was parked, and I never heard a peep,” he said.

Seattle Police found Irwin’s car two miles away the same day, but the U-Haul was no longer connected to it and the windows in the car had been broken so that the thieves could gain access to the property that Irwin had packed in his backseat and trunk.

“The way it was done, it really seems like it was planned out,” said Irwin.

Other than the car, Irwin was left with a couple of fishing rods, some clothes and a bass guitar.

“I’m not really sure why they didn’t take [the bass],” said Irwin, adding that the robbers got away with four other guitars.

Irwin’s insurance company and the Coast Guard have been helpful in covering his expenses, but Irwin said irreplaceable family heirlooms were taken from him. Pictures that Irwin's father took while serving in Vietnam and a ring — both left to him when his father passed away two years ago — have little value to strangers, but immeasurable value to Irwin, he said.

Irwin is almost a week behind his moving schedule as he waits in Seattle for any tip that might lead him to his stuff.

“I’m kind of in limbo,” he said, but he plans to leave on Tuesday regardless of the progress so that he does not miss too many classes.