Auckland mother appeals for return of stolen keepsake box with precious memories of daughter

  • 07/04/2019
Ana's daughter Lila (right) died aged four, now her siblings have been robbed and their sister's special items are gone.
Ana's daughter Lila (right) died aged four, now her siblings have been robbed and their sister's special items are gone. Photo credit: Supplied.

Losing Lila was the hardest thing Auckland woman Ana has ever faced.

She says she was "torn apart" when her beautiful little daughter died suddenly aged four-and-a-half in 2014.

In dealing with the grief, Ana kept a dearly cherished box filled with keepsakes and memories from their time together, before an asthma attack claimed her life.

Nothing can ever be as bad as losing Lila, but Ana says having her house robbed on Wednesday - and that box being stolen - would be close.

Ana told Newshub she immediately knew something was wrong when she arrived home from the after-school pickups with her four children, and saw her two front bedroom windows wide open.

The heartbroken mother is now appealing for the return of her most "precious and irreplaceable" item. She doesn't care about the thousands of dollars' worth of property taken from her; just the one thing that will have no financial benefit or meaning to anyone but her, Lila's twin sister and other siblings.

In this snakeskin box, she had her little girl's life: the notes Lila wrote to her mum while at kindergarten, a gold bracelet she wore, and hair ties holding her hair back the night she passed away.

It also contained two cameras holding all the valuable moments of Lila's life captured before she had a smartphone.

Burgulars raided the Remuera home in Auckland this week, taking passports, laptops, shoes, clothes, wallets, inherited jewellery, a PlayStation, sports equipment, toys and other belongings.

"My son has got no clothes, my 12-year-old, they took every single item of his clothing," she explained.

"I understand I won't get the devices, the PlayStation and the games, the shoes, the clothes - don't care about the stuff, I just want my box."

Ana says one day those items can be replaced, as the family had been unable to afford contents insurance, but the box has a significant importance no amount of money can replace.

After moving into the house bought for her family by her mother 15 months ago, the box had been stashed in a bag at the back of Ana's wardrobe; now stolen from her, it's triggered an outpouring of grieve. Having already lost Lila once, Ana is reliving some of the pain again.

She is making a desperate plea for the box to come back, offering a reward despite having little extra money as she looks after her kids on her own, including one who has cystic fibrosis.

"I just feel like, 'Really?' I'm a really good mum you know; how much does one person have to go through?"

Ana is asking for anyone with any information is encouraged to contact police. She's hoping the thief will have a heart and do the right thing.