SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - A Summerville family is hoping a post on Facebook will lead to the return of their stolen truck.
The truck, a white Ford F-350, was reported stolen from a restaurant parking lot near Tanger Outlet Sunday night, according to a police report.
MOBILE USERS: Click here for additional photos.
But the family says the thief didn't just take a truck.
"There is no material possession in my life that I can't live without," Devin Mitchell said. "But there are personal items in the truck that can't be replaced."
Those items include a tablet Devin's wife, Ashley, gave him as a gift for completing six years of service in the United States Navy. Loaded on that tablet are favorite video games of the couple's three-year-old son, Bryson, who celebrates a birthday on Christmas Day.
There is also the serving set, a family heirloom, Ashley's parents received as a wedding gift that she planned to use for an upcoming shower.
And a pair of rain boots, Bryson's favorite. They are small things, not necessarily valuable to some, but precious to the family.
When Devin walked out of the restaurant Sunday night, discovered the truck missing, and felt reality sink in, he said he felt emptiness.
"It was that feeling that you're sick to your stomach, only 10 times worse," he said.
It was the truck he'd always wanted, and after returning from deployment late last year, he finally purchased that dream truck. They used that truck to help them move into their home.
"Memories have been made already," he said. "It was more than just a truck."
Ashley said the loss didn't hit her at first. Then little Bryson made a comment that put a unique spin on the situation that only a child could provide.
"Why did the mean wizard take my daddy's truck?" he asked. "Why did he do that?"
That's when it began to hit home for her.
"We didn't want our son to think there are bad people in the world," Ashley said.
So Monday night, she said she "just poured it out" on Facebook, giving their story, hoping whoever took the truck or anyone who might know that person would do the right thing.
"You stole what my son calls his Daddy's monster truck," the post reads. "Daddy's truck means the world to my little boy, when he hears that truck he jumps for joy, he literally bounces through the house to the back door and every day exclaims, 'Hey daddy!!! What are you doing here!?' He will run out to greet him, all at the sound of that truck," she wrote.
On Monday morning, Bryson woke up, went outside for a look, then told his mom the truck still wasn't there.
"Let me tell you, as a parent, that's more heartbreaking than the financial burden you have cast upon us," she wrote on Facebook.
The financial burden for this military family is greater because in addition to the upcoming holidays and a birthday for their son, they are expecting their second child at the end of the year.
"It's a huge financial burden on top of the emotional one," Devin says. The family must pay hundreds of dollars to meet a deductible for the stolen property, and must still make a car payment on a vehicle they no longer have. Then there's transportation Devin must find for himself, since he can't leave his wife without a vehicle.
The response so far, Ashley says, has been "overwhelmingly amazing."
"I have faith in my community," she says. "I live in the greatest place on earth," adding that she has lived in other places and can confidently make that statement.
She said she expected family and friends would share it.
She did not expect to be contacted by local media, shares by fellow military families around the world and the phone calls, emails, texts and Facebook messages encouraging the family to not give up hope that someone will do the right thing.
She said there have been multiple reported sightings of the truck, but all, so far, have been false alarms. She said one man who thought he found the truck was as excited as her husband was and just as disappointed when it turned out not to be the missing vehicle.
"It has been proof that there are good people," she says.
Her Facebook post has been shared hundreds of times since Monday night.
Her post ended with this message:
"I pray your conscience will find you. That your Jiminy Cricket will bend your ear. That something will tell you that this is just wrong, that you will want to return it, you will want to make amends, even if it's with your own piece of mind. I pray that you consider what it would do to your family or your friends if they were in this position, that something will make you realize. That while it is not just a truck to it's owners, to you, it's just not worth it, it is just a truck. Please return my son's Daddy's monster truck."
The truck has yellow "Don't tread on me" Virginia plates, a white bed cover, lifted 8-inch Mickey Thompson tires, 20-inch black rims and a Harley Davidson grill.
Anyone with information on the theft or the location of the vehicle should contact the North Charleston Police Department at (843) 740-2800 or Crime Stoppers at (843) 554-1111.