A mother has made an emotional appeal for the return of a precious memento of her late son, which was stolen just a few weeks after his death.
A handbag containing a toy soldier belonging to Luke Sellers, who died last month aged 28, was stolen at the weekend while his mother, Sheena Cartin, was visiting his grave in the Gaywood cemetery.
Speaking from her home in Bishop’s Stortford, Mrs Cartin said the two-inch high, blue and red figure was the last of a set of 24 that Luke had during his childhood and which he described as “his boys”.
Luke, whom Mrs Cartin said had been “fit and healthy”, died suddenly in the early hours of April 4, after suffering a heart attack.
She said: “I just got a phone call in the morning at 5.30 saying he was in resuscitation and a few minutes later I had one to say he’d died.”
She explained that he had given the toy to her before his death and she had carried it with him in the weeks since then.
“He said, ‘You keep it, Mum, it will be safer with you’, so that’s why it’s so precious. It was a bit of him that kept him near to me”, she said.
Mrs Cartin described the thieves as “evil”, adding: “This is still very raw to me and it makes it 100 times worse.”
Police say that thieves smashed the window of a silver Ford Focus to steal the black, leather look handbag at around 1.15pm on Saturday.
The figure was kept in a separate, zipped compartment. The bag also contained a purse with bank cards, lottery tickets and a white Samsung mobile phone.
But Mrs Cartin said the only thing that matters to her is to find out what has happened to the toy soldier and admitted that she had “wanted to scream” when she realised the item had gone.
She said: “As soon as I knew the bag was missing, that was the first thing that came into my head. Everything else is irrelevant.”
She has also thanked the hundreds of people who have helped to share the appeal on social media and who are trying to find the item.
“We have had 400 shares on Facebook and there’s a lot of people I don’t even know who are looking for this bag.”
PC Danielle Robinson, of Lynn police, who is investigating the theft, said: “The victim in this incident is devastated by the loss of this item, which hold great sentimental value.
“She is desperate to have it returned to her. We would ask anyone with information about where the bag is or anyone who witnessed this incident to come forward.”
Witnesses should call PC Robinson via the non-emergency 101 number.
Alternatively, information can be passed on by phoning Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.