U.S. Army SSG Patrick Jacobson had planned out the next two months before a scheduled 9-month redeployment in Afghanistan at the end of January 2012.
He sold an old truck for $1,000 and planned to use that money to visit his three sons in New York. He would spend Christmas with his wife Shannon and their family — Tatianna, 12, and RJ, 10 — in the Fayetteville, NC, home they've lived in for five years.
What he didn't plan for: Their house being robbed.
Based out of Fort Bragg, Jacobson arrived home on Dec. 9 to find the place in chaos. Computers had been stolen. The bedroom had been overturned. The children's Christmas presents, still in shopping bags in a bedroom closet, had been taken. The PlayStation that RJ, a high-functioning autistic, considered his favorite thing in the world was gone.
So were savings bonds for the children and Jacobson's truck money.
"Everybody always says to put your most valuable stuff in a fireproof box," said Shannon Jacobson. "Well, the took the firepr...