After the Theft of a Family’s Trailer, The Story Continues …

It seems a lifetime, but it’s only been a month since we reported that someone stole the Bonnin family trailer in the midst of Carr Fire evacuations. We posted Megan Bonnin’s letter that she addressed to the thief, in which she chronicled all the precious treasures the family had stored inside the trailer for safe-keeping while the family fled their Shasta home in the wake of the Carr Fire, only to have it stolen. Click here to read that story. 

Happier days for the Bonnin trailer, before it was stolen and dumped in the woods.

Then we reported how once the trailer was lost, but then it was found, thanks to a young Shingletown man who spotted the trailer ditched in the woods. Click here to read that story.

Anthony Vargas, 21, of Shingletown, found the trailer that was stolen from the Bonnin family.

Since then, the Bonnins have returned to their home, one of the rare Shasta structures to escape the Carr Fire unscathed. They have their trailer, but it’s not the same, because many of the family treasures were dumped by the thieves. And the trailer is damaged and dirty; not the happy place the Bonnins once knew.

I chatted with Megan this weekend after she wrote yet another letter to the thieves who stole the family’s RV.

Clearly, when Megan gets mad, she gets writing. And once again, she had some pointed words for the criminals who took the Bonnin family recreational vehicle.

The Bonnin family trailer, stolen  from off where it was parked off Highway 44, was located by Anthony Vargas in the Shingletown woods.

Here’s her letter:

Dear Sir who stole my family’s trailer,

It’s been a little over a month since the night you made your poor choice to take what wasn’t yours. Today, my husband and I were requested to come to the District Attorney’s office. Sir, people like us don’t go to the DA office, even though we did nothing wrong, we were still unsettled to be there. We were led to the back of the office by the investigator of our case. Did you know we’ve never had a “case” before? When the Investigator (Kert) opened the door, I literally saw my life before my eyes! Our precious scrapbooks and kids’ artwork were right there before me. I truly wept!

Do you know why I wept, Sir? This was a miracle that so many have prayed for. So many of us needed some good news! You see, Sir, I began to lose hope this week. In my human timeline, too much time had passed. I thought you had destroyed the albums, or had thrown them in a dumpster. If there had been any rain this month, they would’ve been ruined.

I also wept for you. How does a person get started on the path you are on? What were you thinking? You really are on a rocky path, worse then the rocky path you dragged our trailer through a month ago. Our celebration today means great consequences for you. It isn’t my choice, but you will always be intertwined in part of my thoughts and memories.

The permanent dirt in our albums will always remind me of you. The damage to our trailer will remind me of you. The destruction in our community from the Carr fire will remind me of you. I still urge you to get your life on track, and hopefully, this could be the last of your crimes.

We are so grateful for all that the Shasta County District Attorneys office did for us, along with the Redding CHP. We know this isn’t a high priority in the scheme of life, but you made it your priority and we are so blessed because of you!

Thank you, from the Bonnin family!

The Bonnin family evacuated from their Shasta home in the Carr Fire, and then theives stole their trailer – loaded with personal items for safe-keeping during the fire.

Next, Megan and I chatted.

Q: Hey, Megan, I saw your post on Facebook. You really have this letter-writing thing down to an art, especially when you’re fired up, and who wouldn’t be, after what you’ve been through? I like how you referred to the criminal throughout the letter as “Sir”. Nice touch. Classy.

First, I’m glad you got your albums back. But second, I’m sorry they were soiled. But mainly, I’m just so sorry this happened to you and your family. Were the criminals who took your trailer ever identified?

One male has been linked to taking the trailer at this time, and is in custody. I’m not sure I can say much more than that.

Q: What was recovered from the stolen trailer, and what’s still missing?

There were things returned when the trailer was found. My son’s baby blanket, our swing, golf clubs, and my daughter’s toys. The albums and kid’s artwork were found by the investigator 20 miles away from where the trailer was found, tucked in the woods. Also a bag with my son’s baseball jerseys and a few random clothing items were with the albums. We didn’t recover items with monetary value, which we are totally OK with! Eventually those things can be replaced. Our personal documents are gone as well.

Q: That’s really awful. I’m so sorry, especially since your trailer was your family’s happy place. Megan, how have you adapted to the trailer since the theft? Does it feel the same to you?

Our trailer is at the repair shop. We are waiting for an estimate to see what it will take to restore. Most people ask us if insurance covers it. It doesn’t cover the damage. We aren’t quite sure if this is the trailer we want to take our next family vacation in, but time will help make that decision. This experience has given us a tiny glimpse into the lives of our friends and neighbors that lost so much in the fire. Amazingly, we were treated like we had lost our home too and have been so blessed! The local Soccerkraze store heard our story that my son’s new soccer cleats were stolen, and he gave him a new pair. The kids’ schools have been so accommodating and kind.

Q: Well, there’s your silver lining to this ashy ordeal. I can imagine you didn’t expect any of those positive things to happen. That’s very cool.

Megan, how is life going for you and your family now, post-CARR Fire?

Our family is doing really well. We all have a new appreciation for so many things. We are all very aware our home shouldn’t have made it through the fire. The devastation in this area is very heartbreaking. Dump trucks and bulldozers line our street in Old Shasta every morning on their way to help people.

It’s so great to see these first steps being taken to rebuild. And with this, we see hope for our future as a community. I am truly floored that our DA’s office took this on as such a high priority. When we didn’t hear anything for weeks, we began to think it was over. This is far from the truth! They were busy cracking the case and doing it well! We truly are grateful. We are going to start scanning scrapbook pages this weekend! Thanks again for following up on us, we couldn’t ask for a better outcome!

Q: Your attitude is inspirational, Megan. Thank you for taking the time to share your story – again – with us on aNewsCafe.com. I wish you and your family the very best.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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