A Saskatchewan family's hope of recovering at least a few precious mementos from their stolen U-Haul came true New Year's Day when an "alert citizen" spotted the truck in an Abbotsford, B.C., parking lot.

"Everything we own was gone with the exception of three small boxes which contained some of the most valuable things to us; old photos, the keepsake urns we were hoping to find," said Michael Suiker.

The Suiker family's move from Saskatoon to Victoria was marred by the Tuesday night theft of the moving van, after they'd made a stop in Surrey, B.C.

After the family appealed for help finding the missing truck, it was spotted Friday afternoon at around 2:20 p.m. PT in Abbotsford, abandoned near Sumas Way and McConnell Rd in a Rona parking lot.

Alert citizen

An "alert citizen" saw the Facebook posts, recognized the U-Haul truck, which was loaded with furniture, household items, and precious family mementos, and told an officer investigating a nearby crash, said Const. Ian MacDonald.

"When you're dealing with stolen vehicles and people's possessions, time is of the essence," he told CBC News.

"Really good work by this alert citizen, did the right thing, and I commend those people on social media. You get the word out quickly, you get a faster response."

An attached trailer containing an ATV was stolen, along with a number of items with high street value, said police, while the personal belongings Suiker described remained.

Michael Suiker and Meghan Suiker

Michael Suiker and his daughter Meghan say they are thankful for an alert citizen who recognized their stolen moving truck. (CBC)

"We have some of our most precious possessions but what it comes down to is we have two suitcases," he said.

Police say they will check the truck for finger prints and clues as part of their investigation of the theft.

Thousands shared story on social media

The Suikers were on the last leg of their journey when they stayed at a relative's place in South Surrey for the night.

When they woke up, the U-Haul truck and its attached trailer were gone. 

Suiker and his daughter appealed to the public on social media to keep watch for the U-Haul truck and thousands of people shared their story.

"It makes us feel good that there are good people out there and that we do have a lot to look forward to," said Suiker.