Utah veteran says thief posed as fellow Marine and asked for help

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SALT LAKE CITY – A Utah veteran who offered a helping hand to a man who claimed to be a fellow Marine was the victim of a burglary, and his military uniforms and decorations were among the stolen items.

Kurt Harris said he got to know a man over a period of several months at a Salt Lake City gym. The man told Harris he was a Marine, so when the man needed a place to stay Harris, a Marine himself, offered his home.

Harris went away on business, and when he returned Friday he learned the man he'd invited into his home had allegedly stole his car, two laptops and other items.

"The last decade of my Marine service is gone,” Harris said. “My uniforms, my dress blues, photos of friends that are not with us anymore, it's all gone."

Harris said the other items can be replaced or are covered by insurance, but he said it’s devastating to lose the personal items purchased with something other than money.

“That’s the real knife in your heart, the salt on the wound,” he said. “We’re not even the same size guy: what would he want with my military uniforms, and my decorations that tell my story as a Marine? Every material item that I had that was testament that I served a decade in the Marine Corps.

Harris said he can only think of two uses for his stolen uniforms and medals, and he said both are disturbing.

“Maybe to pawn it for a few bucks, that’s a stab in the heart, or he’s gonna use it to perpetuate this lie that he’s told to other people and himself that he’s a Marine, that he wore the uniform, that he earned it like the rest of us,” he said.

FOX 13 News has received the name of a potential suspect in the case. While Salt Lake City Police were able to confirm Sunday that Harris was the victim of a burglary and a few other details, they could not verify that name without going through personnel who were out of the office for the holiday weekend.

In the meantime, Harris asks folks look out for his 2008 Dodge Charger. The vehicle is black and has Marine Corps plates reading 03YUT.

Harris said it’s painful to know that his loss came from a willingness to serve another.

“That’s the worst part is you lend out a helping hand trying to be a good person, and things like this happen, and you try to look at it in a good light,” he said. “I try not to hate to the guy… it’s a moral battle inside."