Tropical Shipping Container Theft


Update:  In 3 days, 114 donors raised over $3500 to meet our first goal - replacing all Tropical items in the container!  Amazing community support!  

We have set a new goal to replace non-Tropical items and pay off the debt from the container itself, please keep sharing!

We also announced plans for Tropical Oasis Retreat #7 in our new location in Kauai, Hawaii!  All donors to this campaign will receive a discount code :)

The short story:

Recently our 9,000 pound steel shipping container with 75% of our total possessions inside, was stolen from our land near Pinon Hills,  CA

Among the things inside were items essential to our nonprofit party, Tropical, which has been going on for 19 years and donated over $29,000 to charity.

In order to continue our work we are asking friends and community to donate whatever they can, $10 or $20 is great, nothing too small, and/or share this campaign if you think the work we do is important and want to help it continue.

We need $3,500 to replace just the tropical items (banner, decorations, lighting, speakers) - anything is a great help though.  If we go over we can replace other items or pay off the storage container/land loan.

We are not letting this get us down, we are thankful for our family safe and healthy, our amazing friends who always show support and love, and for having everything we need to live with in our home.

Optimistic though we may be, this is a big blow for our event and potentially for the after school music programs we help fund.   If you can help by making a small donation, or by sharing this story, or both, we really appreciate it and promise we will keep smiling and doing what we can to make the world a better place despite all the challenges <3


The long story:

A few years ago my wife and I bought a really nice piece of land about one and a half hours from Los Angeles and starting dreaming of the potential there.

Short term it seemed like we could host music events there, long-term perhaps develop a campground or even build a retreat center.

Early on we noticed that there were theft problems, the 2 little sheds there were frequently rummaged through, so we put nothing of value there.

Out first investment was a 40 foot long, 8 foot wide, 9.5 foot high shipping container - the kind you see out at the docks or sometimes inland modified into a cool tiny home, restaurant, or other use.

We knew that we needed security first and foremost so the only modification we made was to put 2 steel lockboxes on it that would be very difficult to get tools into to break the locks. It was delivered just before the year turned 2016.

In early 2016 we had a couple of small get-togethers on the land, volunteers making little improvements like clearing rocks and pathways, clearing campsites, and building a fire pit.  We dreamt of putting a yurt there but it seemed like it might be stolen, so we focused on improvements that could not be stolen.

One day we drove up to the land for a visit and found the gate on the road locked with a note on it for us.  It was from the neighbors up the road, whose well had been vandalized and a few things stolen.  They met us at the gate, gave us the combination, and we all hoped the problem would go away.  

For a while things did quiet down there, but our own lives busied up and the land project went on the back burner for a while.  We still tried to make monthly visits, bringing some things up we didn’t need, grabbing boxes of decorations and winter clothes ahead of Halloween, Christmas, etc.  The main use of our land became storage.  

Then we hatched a plan for summer 2017 that involved moving most of our possessions to land storage, leaving our costly apartment in Redondo Beach at the end of June. We would find a cheaper place around September 1st, move back from storage whatever fit in our new home, and everything else back to our land.  In the end we decided to also rent a local storage unit in Redondo Beach to keep the most essential things for living and make the move out and future move-in easier. 

It was a great and ambitious plan, one we pulled off pretty well until the end.  We had a fantastic time traveling as a family over 7,000 miles of the Western U.S.,and Canada, despite 2 blown transmissions, each within 20 miles of Boise.  Come August 31st, we decided to drive home from Boise to LA on a one-way rental van rather than wait out our own van’s second transmission replacement.  Change can be hard but it’s usually best to keep things moving so we got on the road, one person driving, other searching Zillow and Craigslist and setting up appointments.  We rolled into LA around 11pm Sept 1st, put an application on a house we liked on the 2nd, had our keys and started moving in on the 3rd.  

Over the next 3 weeks I used rental vans to move most of our essentials from our local storage into our new home in between and after my work shifts.  We have no garage or outside storage at our new place so things that didn’t seem to fit were left in storage and earmarked to go back to our land by Sept 30.

With about 90% of what we wanted moved I noticed I had missed a call from our neighbor close to our land.  I was driving home from work around 9pm when I noticed the missed call and voice mail message.  Listening to the message the unthinkable had happened, our 40 foot long shipping container, weighing over 9000 pounds empty and loaded down with at least 75% of our possessions, was completely gone.

The neighbors hoped that we were the ones who took it, but that of course was not the case.  It’s not like we thought it was 100% safe there, every time we drove up the hill we were relieved to see the big blue container whole and intact, not sawed in half or torched.  But to just take the whole thing, we really hadn’t given that one much thought.

When I told Jessica she handled it really well, it was absolutely shocking but in some way made sense after traveling with a lot of stuff really made reducing our possessions a priority.  But as you can imagine we still wanted to pick and choose and to lose that much felt pretty monumental.

Some of the hardest things to let go of are the sentimental ones, all the photo albums and mementos of times gone by,  Other things that hurt were things we were collecting for a future retreat center - tables, benches, sauna, etc.  For me the worst are my arsenal of event-production related items like the Tropical banner, fabrics, lights, speakers, tools, etc.  

I really hate to ask people to donate to us - some of my life’s most meaningful work has been to raise money for the less fortunate through my events and I’d love to keep on doing that.  However, the theft of our massive storage container has set us back a lot and threatens to set back our fundraising efforts if we are not able to raise funds to recoup essential things lost.

We really appreciate our many friends and are not asking for a large donation - but if enough people can kick in $10 or $20 it will really help get us back on track here, and to get back to our work serving others.  We will likely put the money to use in the order of urgency - (1) replace essential items to continue Tropical - (2) pay off debt from the shipping container we don’t even have anymore and from the land itself, and (3) replace other items lost (tropical stuff represents maybe 1/8 of what we lost).


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Ben Annand 
Los Angeles, CA
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