Upset family can't believe someone would steal from a grave site
The family of a young girl who died last year are devastated treasured items have been stolen from her grave site.
The girl died in her Palmerston North home in 2016, and by her grave was a small park bench the girl had been given when she was 1.
But the bench is gone and the girl's family are devastated that vandals are inflicting unkindness on them.
"It's horrible," her mother Alex Vergara said.
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"It's my baby's chair.
"It's bad enough what happened to us... They're taking things from her."
The bench was painted in a glitter varnish and had a plaque on it stating the girl's name, birth date, and when she died.
Alex Vergara went with her husband, Carlos Vergara, on their daily visit to Kelvin Grove Cemetery last Wednesday afternoon when they noticed the bench wasn't there.
She said her daughter's headstone had been vandalised the week before and a man had been mending it that morning. He confirmed the bench had still been there at that stage.
"He said the chair was here, so Wednesday after 8am it was taken in the daylight."
A plant was also stolen the previous week.
"It's bad enough we lost her and sit here every day, and now someone does that," Alex Vergara said.
People had offered to replace the bench, which she said was kind, but not the point.
"It's not the same. It's my lost child's."
As they were there so often, the couple mowed the lawns on either side of their daughter's grave to keep them looking tidy.
They kept an eye out for other people and now hoped people would return the favour.
"We don't care who they are. We just want the chair back."
The family did not report the incident to police.
Palmerston North City Council parks and property manager John Brenkley said the council had not removed the chair.
"We are very, very careful about that.
"Even when we have to do maintenance, we always make sure the family moved decorations."
Families could decorate grave sites for five years and then they had to clear them so the site could be mown over, as Kelvin Grove was a lawn cemetery.
Brenkley said there were not cameras installed at the cemetery but the gates were closed at 6pm.
"You have got grieving families and people coming along and stealing stuff and even vandalising things and there's not an awful lot we can do."
He said staff at the cemetery tried to keep an eye on things and report suspicious behaviour.