ALAMEDA, Calif. - An Alameda family has lost everything just as they were about to forge a new life near Sacramento after a U-Haul truck and his car were stolen from his home.
Abdul Mateen Rahmati, his wife Zeinab and their 1-year-old son were ready to move to Northern California on Oct. 18 when they woke up and discovered the U-Haul filled with all their belongings, and their Toyota Camry, stolen from in front of their building on Central Avenue in Alameda.
Mateen Rahmati, who had immigrated to the U.S. from Afghanistan, said he woke up around 7:30 a.m. that day to find the U-Haul truck missing from his yard. He tells KTVU his wife went to their backyard where their car should have been parked and saw that it too was missing.
"I was thinking it was a dream," he said.
To make matters worse, the auto theft temporarily prevented Rahmati from earning a living because he works as an Uber driver. He sends money to his extended family in Bagram, Afghanistan.
Rahmati worked for the U.S. forces at the Bagram Air Base starting in 2007, first as a night shift manager at the base's commissary hall before being promoted to a translator in the U.S. military.
He immigrated under the Special Immigrant Visa program in 2015 for Afghan citizens who worked on behalf of the U.S. government and became a citizen just last year, the same year he and Zeinab welcomed their son.
Alameda police told Rahmati that video of his stolen car and U-Haul captured thieves traveling from Alameda into Oakland a little before 6 a.m.
Rahmati said his car has since been recovered, albeit with "some scratches" and damage to the bumper.
Damaged sustained to Abdul Mateen Rahmati's Toyota Camry that was recovered by SFPD
He received a call from San Francisco police around 1:20 a.m. on Thursday saying they found his car with the plates missing. Rahmati said police told him a woman was arrested over the stolen car, but didn't have any additional details.
Additionally, Oakland police towed the stolen U-Haul to their facility on International Boulevard, but everything was cleared out.
Their wedding rings and other beloved family mementos are gone, including newborn clothes for their son and a footprint made of his tiny foot.
"Everything that was a good memory for us, for the future to show him one day, to show how tiny he was…we lost all of [it]," said Rahmati.
Among the stolen items were the family's passports.
His wife Zeinab moved to the U.S. in 2021 when the U.S. military withdrew its forces from the country and the Taliban took over. Because of the current state of Afghanistan's government, his wife cannot have her passport replaced unless she travels to the Middle East.
THESSALONIKI, GREECE - NOVEMBER 22: An Afghan refugee holds an Afghan passport as they board buses bound for temporary housing after arriving at Thessaloniki International Airport Makedonia via Kabul on November 22, 2021 in Thessaloniki, Greece. The 118 Afghans included a minister, prosecutor and a US Army translator. Some will remain in Greece for the foreseeable future and others are headed to third countries. The program was spearheaded by Thessaloniki NGO Elpida Home in partnership with the Greek Ministry of Migration. (Photo by Byron Smith/Getty Images)
He said he has since bought a rug, where he, his wife, and son sleep on with a blanket in their new home in Yuba City.
"We don't have anything…just some blankets. We lost everything," he said. "[I] never would think it could happen to me."
Neighbors said they were just taken aback at the brazen crime. Neighbor Christian Deitch told KTVU that since he moved to the area, the worst theft he was aware of was a bike being stolen back in 2019.
"This unbelievable crime has horrified us in his building, and we are deeply ashamed that this happened in our community to one of our neighbors," Deitch said in a fundraiser for the family. "The family is physically unharmed, but the incident has already left them with deep emotional wounds that will take a long time to repair."
KTVU reached out to the Alameda Police Department but has not yet heard back.
Neighbors are raising money to help replace what his family has lost, including basic items such as clothing, bedding, and kitchen items.
A GoFundMe for the family can be found here.