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Ellen DeGeneres, others help family after their U-Haul was stolen

November 15, 2011 |  1:18 pm

Stolen U-Haul
A man whose family lost all their possessions when their U-Haul truck was stolen during their move to Southern California said Tuesday that more than 250 people have offered aid, including TV host Ellen DeGeneres.

The truck was stolen early Sunday morning from outside the home of relatives in Long Beach, where the Bischofberger family was staying.  It was recovered by police Monday, but most of the family's belongings -- including a washer and dryer, king-sized bed and sectional couch -- were missing. Some cherished photos and his 5-year-old daughter's prized pink bear were discovered among the ripped boxes, said Allen Bischofberger, 32.

“It’s a big truck, and I had it packed to the ceiling,” Bischofberger said. “You had to push stuff in to get it shut. You can see the front of the van when you open up the back door now.”

Bischofberger said he had packed everything from his four-bedroom house in Tracy into the 27-foot truck to move the family to Long Beach. He had recently accepted a new job in the area. 

The father of two said the family arrived at his brother’s house in a “very nice neighborhood” of Long Beach about 12:30 a.m. Sunday and soon fell asleep.

Around 2:15 a.m., as Bischofberger was sleeping on the living room coach, he heard the truck start.

“You see this truck going down the road and everything you own is in it,” he recalled. “It’s like … ‘That’s everything I own!'

“The things that start going through your head are, ‘They have my kids' medicine.' The TVs and stuff don’t really come to your mind.”

Since losing the U-Haul, Bischofberger said, his brother’s neighbors have pitched in to help, bringing clothes and toys for his kids, cleaning supplies, and even a surround-sound home stereo system.

“Somebody steals stuff, and you kind of get mean,” Bischofberger said. “It’s nice to feel and see that people do care.”

One of those people is DeGeneres, whose producers called Bischofberger’s family to invite them to a taping Monday. He was excited just to get VIP passes, but they got something more, which he was not at liberty to share until the show aired Tuesday afternoon.

“We just go to watch the show, and she helped us out,” said Bischofberger, who called DeGeneres “generous.”

Officials with the Long Beach Police Department said they have not recovered a trailer that was attached to the truck, which was undergoing a forensic investigation.


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Photo: Allen Bischofberger and his daughter, Peyton. Credit: KTLA-TV