TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – U-Haul has issued a statement after a Tampa Bay couple’s truck went missing with all their belongings inside, taking responsibility as a company for a “clerical mistake.”

Stan and Shirley Brown were traveling from St. Louis to Tampa Bay in the U-Haul in late August, moving to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

They parked the U-Haul at the Holiday Inn on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater and when they went to pick it up to unload on Sept. 4, it was no longer at the hotel.

The company said in a statement that following media reports of the theft, a local management team investigated.

They learned that the truck rented by the Browns was mistakenly identified as abandoned equipment and repossessed by a local team on Sept. 2.

“This was the result of human error stemming from a clerical mistake in our system that listed the same equipment number on a separate active contract in another state,” the statement said. “The contract with the clerical mistake was referenced when the equipment was spotted in a Clearwater hotel lot, leading a local team member to believe it had been abandoned.”

U-Haul said the family’s equipment and possessions were held at a U-Haul rental location for 10 days, from Sept. 2 to Sept. 12, while the team tried to reach the Browns. They were unable to reference the correct contract and tried to contact the wrong customer, according to the company’s statement.

The company said it has been in contact with the Brown family and the U-Haul Company of Clearwater president visited the family Thursday morning to deliver several boxes of personal items. U-Haul said those items were kept and larger items were disposed of.

The company said in its statement they offer their apologies to the family and thanked them for their understanding.

“Our Company intends to do right by the Brown family and make them whole for our mistake and the possessions they lost. This was an extremely rare and regrettable series of events for which we take full responsibility,” the statement said.

The Browns told 8 On Your Side Thursday that only a few items were saved from burning at the dump. In a statement they said:

These are the 5 boxes that remain of our truckload. While we are grateful to get them, they represent perhaps at most a quarter of the memorabilia on the truck. It was a real punch in the gut after a very extreme emotional roller coaster ride. My children have been experiencing this same harmful emotional churn. U-Haul had told us that their employees would not/did not go through boxes, but one of these 5 boxes is a compilation of 4 other boxes. Either U-Haul or PC Solid Waste employees did go through boxes. We definitely wonder how much of our belongings and information did not make it into the incinerator and are in someone’s hands and not ours.

You can read the full statement on the Brown family’s missing truck from U-Haul below:

Following media reports on Wednesday of an apparent moving truck theft in Clearwater, our local management team investigated. What we learned is that a truck rented by the Brown family, which was on a valid contract, was mistakenly identified as abandoned equipment and repossessed by our local team on Sept. 2. This was the result of human error stemming from a clerical mistake in our system that listed the same equipment number on a separate active contract in another state. The contract with the clerical mistake was referenced when the equipment was spotted in a Clearwater hotel lot, leading a local Team Member to believe it had been abandoned.  

The Browns’ equipment and possessions were held at a U-Haul rental location for 10 days, from Sept. 2 to Sept. 12, while our team tried unsuccessfully to reach the customer on the contract. Unfortunately, our team was referencing the incorrect contract and attempting to contact the incorrect customer.  

U-Haul management has been in contact with the Brown family. Our U-Haul Company of Clearwater president visited the family on Thursday morning to deliver several boxes of personal contents that were kept when their larger items were disposed.  

Our Company intends to do right by the Brown family and make them whole for our mistake and the possessions they lost. This was an extremely rare and regrettable series of events for which we take full responsibility. We have offered our sincerest apologies to the Browns, and we thank them for their understanding.