Trailer thief 'steals Christmas' from San Diego military families

More than 100 hand-crafted model aircraft stolen
Posted at 6:45 PM, Nov 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-10 21:50:17-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - An ash-filled stolen trailer in Miramar contained heartbreak for more than 100 military families in the form of hand-carved model aircraft burned and damaged. 

Many of the coveted items are simply too far gone from the damages.

"They are hand-carved, hand-painted and personalized," said John Pineda, who owns Squadron Toys.

He says his model aircraft are ordered by service members and veterans - and their loved ones to commemorate service. Many of them are gifts for a retirement or Christmas.

Those gifts disappeared overnight, in minutes.

"We are heartbroken," said Pineda. He showed 10News the surveillance video.

Just past 1 a.m. on Nov. 3, a U-Haul truck drives into the parking lot. Five minutes later, you can see it again, this time hauling Pineda's trailer, filled with more than a hundred model aircraft to be shipped out the next morning.

The discovery of his trailer missing was followed a week later by a call from the CHP.

The trailer was found on fire on a street in Vista. He towed it back Thursday.

Pineda looked in the trailer and found about 60 of the models were missing. There were also burned model planes and helicopters. The others have scratches and water damage from the firefight. 

All are ruined.

Since each aircraft takes four months to make, they won't be done in time for Christmas.

"Whoever is responsible actually stole Christmas from a lot of people," said Pineda.

Each model cost several hundred dollars and is personalized with a name, call sign and squadron markings.

If you have any information on the case, call Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.