Since May, Mike Castaldi, of Milford, has been counting down the days until coming home after serving three tours overseas in the U.S. Navy.
On Monday, the day before the somber anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Castaldi went to his storage unit in Gulfport, Mississippi only to learn that someone had broken into it while he was serving his country and stolen his belongings.
All that remained were items of furniture and military uniforms, according to the Facebook page that his friends set up, “Giving Back to Our Hometown Hero.”
Police in Gulfport, Mississippi said Castaldi filed the police report on Sept. 10 and it appears that the unit held all of the contents of his home.
Appliances, electronics, jewelry, kitchen appliances, clothing, golf clubs and miscellaneous items were all gone.
Friends home in Connecticut are outraged.
Castaldi too was angry, but he is a member of the U.S. military and his mind was also on Sept. 11.
"I want to thank everyone for trying to help me out in what every way they can," he posted on Facebook. "People like you make what we do what we do worth it...I think tomorrow is more important to remember and what we could never forget...9/11 god bless and rest in peace to everyone lost in that tragic day... They will live forever in my mind and motivate me to do what I do everyday and I hope it does for everyone... Rip and god bless America best country in the world."
Friends have turned their outrage into action and they are using social media to collect donations that they will ship out to Castaldi on Tuesday.
A local company is collecting checks. They can be made to Mike Castaldi and mailed c/o Tri City Appliance, 360-362 New Haven Ave, Milford CT 06460
There are several locations to drop off donations for Castaldi:
On Thursday, Sept. 20, there will be a benefit at the Orange Ale House, 517 Boston Post Road in Orange, from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. The organizers are asking for a donation of $5 or whatever people can afford.
While friends are doing what they can to help Castaldi, police warn that these types of thefts, unfortunately, are not uncommon.
When the victim is a member of the military, solving the crime is even more difficult because the window of time the theft could have happened in is so large.
If you store your belongings in a storage unit, police recommend using a circular lock rather than one with a U shape because they prove more challenging for thieves to crack.