A young couple making a road trip from California to Michigan with their worldly possessions had their car broken into at City Creek's west parking lot and $6,000 worth of their belongings taken.
Jamila Benkato and Levi LaChappelle graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with master's degrees in global and international studies this spring. They had planned to move their lives across country to Grand Rapids, Mich., and then on to Austin, Texas, to begin doctoral degrees. "We worked hard to pare [our possessions] down to fit in our Honda Civic ... ending up with all of our most valuable things," Benkato says.
On Friday, June 29, they stopped in Salt Lake City for lunch. They collect photographs of themselves in front of state capitol buildings and, being history buffs, wanted to visit Temple Square and other historic sites in the Beehive capital.
When they returned to their Honda Civic, which they'd parked in City Creek's west underground parking structure, they found the back window on the driver's side smashed and several backpacks and a duffel bag full of possessions taken. The trunk, however, which was also full of their belongings, was unopened.
"It was just shocking," she says. "We stood there for several minutes staring at the window."
Both their laptops were taken. "They contained our theses and irreplaceable pictures of all our friends in grad school, road trips, family events," Benkato says. She also lost her Social Security card, birth certificate and passport.
LaChappelle lost not only all his clothing—other than what he had on—but also a prized personal possession, an 80-year-old silver knife his grandfather had carved in metal shop at high school. It has South High on the handle.
Levi LaChappelle wearing one of his shirts that was later stolen.
The couple talked to City Creek security and Salt Lake City Police Department. Both told Benkato, she says, that this was the first time they were aware of such an incident occurring in the mall.
The couple's travels were delayed, as they had to spend several days in Salt Lake City working with police and having their car repaired.
SLCPD is currently reviewing videotape of the theft, which, Benkato says, shows a large truck with a Texas license plate. She hopes somebody will remember a truck with sleeping bags, a tent, backpacks and a duffel bag in its bed passing them by around the City Creek mall or further afield.
If you have any information on the theft, please contact Salt Lake City Police Department at 801-799-3000 and quote case # 12-110553.