Aiken County man hopeful for new year after facing loss, theft and COVID-19

Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 6:24 PM EST
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AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s safe to say 2020 hasn’t been the easiest year for any of us, but for one Aiken County man, these past few months have been incredibly hard.

Let us introduce you to Craig Stripling.

“Heartbroken and violated.”

As if losing his mother in may wasn’t hard enough, losing his father just a few months later seemed almost unbearable.

“Even the preacher at the funeral said he may have had COVID when he died, but that’s not what killed him. Mr. Stripling died of a broken heart because he missed his wife so much,” Stripling said.

Stripling was in charge of his father’s estate, but handling things were put on hold when he himself was put in the ICU with COVID-related pneumonia.

“I was just so glad to be alive because those first two days I spent in a plastic bag,” he said.

But that gladness came to a crashing halt less than 12 hours after he was released.

“My celebration and my beautiful Sunday got interrupted with a phone call from my brother who says ‘Craig, I just came over to the shop.’ He says ‘I got bad news for you,’” Stripling said.

Six vehicles, a travel trailer, a boat, computers, tools, titles and keys were all stolen from the family car dealership.

“My exact words were ‘You know, 2020 can’t be this brutal to me,’” Stripling said.

But it didn’t end there.

“He calls me 45 minutes later and says, “I’ve got more bad news.’ I say, ‘How can it get any worse?’ and he says, ‘They’ve broken into daddy’s house.’”

Jewelry, artwork, his father’s car and motorcoach were all gone as well.

“It has nothing to do with the monetary value of it. It has everything to do with the sentimental part of it,” Stripling said.

Now Craig says he’s just trying to pick up the pieces and is anxiously awaiting a new year, and just being thankful to be alive.

“I’ll forgive him, but I hope they spend the rest of their life in prison,” he said regarding the thieves.

Stripling says he did have cameras at the car dealership, but they were out of commission after a break-in that happened back in November.

And he believes the thieves likely knew the business and house were empty because of social media postings about being in the hospital and his father dying.

He says he hopes people will use this as a lesson to be careful what you post online.

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