A Belfast, U.K., mother has twice lost her child—once to death and now to thieves.
Claire Smallwood told UK media that thieves broke into her home between 6:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 12. and took just one thing—her baby’s ashes.
Her daughter Holly was stillborn last November, and Smallwood kept her ashes in a plastic bag in a box on her bedside table covered with family photographs.
“It was a wee memory box beside my bed, the ashes were in a plastic bag inside the box and there was a picture in the box and pictures of her around it too,” she told Belfast Live.
Police told her the bandits probably thought the ashes were drugs.
“What is hurting me the most is once they realize it’s not drugs, they are going to throw them away,” she told Belfast Live.
Smallwood said she came back to her apartment at around 6:30 p.m. and left after getting something. When she came back, she noticed that a piece of fence was down, but thought it might have been the wind.
When she came inside, she noticed that her son Jonah’s diapers were in the hallway. Still not suspecting anything, she thought her mom may have stopped by and left them there.
Despicable. Let's hope these thugs are caught. https://t.co/gUPrR8TuVk
— Belfast Live (@BelfastLive) December 13, 2017
But then she started noticing other things that were out of place—the electricity box in the living room was open, as were the doors to a wardrobe in her son’s bedroom, and the contents of a drawer in a cabinet that belonged to her partner in their room had been removed.
“Then I looked at my side and saw the lid was off the box and the picture from inside was set neatly at the side, it was so strange. Then I saw they had taken her ashes,” she told Belfast Live.
Still not believing she had been robbed, she thought her parents might have taken them to make a Christmas surprise for her. Then it hit her.
“I was in bits then,” she told Belfast Live.
“We are absolutely devastated, angry and sickened. We don’t care about whatever sick person done this, we just want our Holly back.”
They found tracks in the back garden and believe that the thief or thieves escaped out the back door.
“Police seem to think I maybe scared them off as you could see footprints out the back garden,” she told Belfast Live.
PSI Inspector Paul Noble said they are appealing to the public to help find baby Holly’s ashes.
“We are also appealing to anyone who was in the Ballygomartin Road area last night between 6:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and noticed any suspicious activity, or anyone who knows anything about this burglary, to contact police,” he said, according to Belfast Live.
A baby's stolen ashes: the baby’s mother, Claire Smallwood, said police told her the burglars may have thought the ashes were drugs. She was “devastated, angry and sickened”. https://t.co/AwXCCVCDuU
— The Irish Times (@IrishTimes) December 13, 2017
Smallwood said she hopes the person or people who took the ashes see her message, and if they have a conscience, return them to her.
“I feel like I have lost her twice and it feels even worse this time,” she said, according to the Irish Times. “The only hope I have is that someone sees our appeal and feels bad.”
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