Truck stolen in Petaluma was family’s livelihood

Neighbors and friends are coming together to help a Petaluma man who had his work truck stolen.

They say the thieves stole not just from the man, but the community because he often used his vehicle to help fire survivors and others.

Travis Carter says he and his family had taken a trip out of town for a few days only to find the shock of their lives when they returned. Now, he hopes surveillance videos from neighbors will help solve this crime.

One video shows the 2005 white Chevrolet utility truck belonging to Travis being driven away from the front of his home in Petaluma Friday shortly before one o'clock in the afternoon.

It also shows a silver SUV behind it that was used to carry out the crime. 

"It's heartbreaking. It's overwhelming. Sunday, it's been three days. It comes in waves," says Travis. 

"It's hard to watch the video. Someone just drive off with something you worked so hard for. It was more than a truck to our family. It was a real big turning point in our lives," says Danae Carter, Travis's wife. 

The couple says it's the first time they had a safe vehicle to transport their three children and it's their livelihood.

Travis says he recently started his own construction business. He's now working with borrowed tools. He estimates the tools stolen from his truck to be worth up to $12,000. 

"Travis and I met through volunteering. He gives back to his community so much," says Nikki Giacomini, a friend. 

She says Travis often uses his truck to transport donations to fire survivors, starting in 2017, after the Tubbs Fire in Santa Rosa

"To him, that was more than just tools and whatever money they were going to get. That's his life," says Giacomini. 

Giacomini has gone door to door to see if neighbors have additional surveillance videos to help catch the thieves. That  effort may have paid off Wednesday. Another neighbor shared a video of the silver SUV that may be the same one used in the theft.

"The items inside are the target," says Petaluma police Lieutenant Tim Lyons.

He says Travis's truck was recovered Monday in Hayward and investigators hope surveillance video will lead them to the thieves.  

"You can't see a license plate or any people in the car. But maybe somebody will recognize the suspect vehicle," says Lt. Lyons. 

Travis says the tow yard has informed him that there is heavy damage to the truck and all his tools are gone. 

"It's been hard to sleep. There's no resolution at this point. We don't know if they'll come back for the stuff in my garage," says Travis.

He says insurance will pay him only about $1,000 for the contents and the truck's age and high mileage mean it'll likely be a total loss.

Police say utility trucks are often targetted by thieves because tools are often stored in those types of vehicles.

A gofundme has been set up to help Carter and his family.