Air Force Master Sgt. Steven Turner had high hopes for Christmas, even as he left the country for a four-month assignment in Afghanistan last summer.
He planned to spend the holiday at his new home in Graham with his son, girlfriend and her daughter. He’d give his boy a new digital camera he bought as a gift before he started his deployment.
That vision was shattered earlier this month on Turner’s journey homeward when he learned someone had broken into his house and stolen more than $10,000 worth of personal mementos, electronics, tools and equipment for yard work.
The thief took the Christmas present Turner bought for his son, too.
“I’m usually (deployed) for Christmas,” said Turner, an airman with Lewis-McChord’s 62nd Airlift Wing. “I wanted to get home, but it doesn’t even feel like it.”
Turner’s not asking for help from the public, and insurance will help him recover much of what was taken after he pays a $1,000 deductible. But some of the stolen items were simply irreplaceable.
The burglar took Arabic and Turkish jewelry Turner bought on missions to the Middle East – places the 21-year Air Force veteran doesn’t expect to see again.
The thief also nabbed a special collection of vinyl Beatles singles Turner gathered as part of his lifelong record collection. They were in excellent condition and included the original album sleeves.
“I just want my records back,” he said.
Turner, 40, is the youngest of nine siblings from Ohio. They’ve rallied to lift his spirits for what’s shaping up to be a difficult Christmas.
“My brother’s a really good person,” said sister Pamela Brown of Springfield, Ohio. “He works hard for his country, and he didn’t deserve for someone to do that to him.”
“I just want him to have a good Christmas, and this is really depressing for him and his family,” she said.
Turner said the burglary unfolded in broad daylight while his girlfriend was at work and her daughter was at school. They came home to find the back door broken, one dog loose, and a second dog hiding in a closet.
He got the news Dec. 6 while waiting at a military base in Kyrgyzstan for a plane home.
“It was like 17 degrees outside,” he remembered. “I just wanted to get home and figure it out.”
He doesn’t think the burglar knew he was on his way home from a deployment. He had just bought the house in March and put as much work as he could into it before his mission took him overseas July 30.
He’s considering looking at local record shops for some of the rare Beatles records that were stolen. That kind of information could help provide a better sense of who would commit a crime against a deployed U.S. service member just weeks before Christmas.
“It was just some stuff that was taken was really irreplaceable and that’s bugging me,” he said.