Pair’s grief over theft of heir­looms

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

What started out as a trip full of good in­ten­tions has turned into a night­mare for Jackie Mar­garet.

The Nel­son res­i­dent drove her white 1989 Toy­ota Hi­ace van to Auck­land to re­turn pre­cious fam­ily heir­looms to her part­ner Bob Ste­wart’s fam­ily af­ter he passed away ear­lier this year.

But the van was stolen from Aro­tau Place, off Carl­ton Gore Rd in Grafton, just af­ter mid­night on Novem­ber 9 with all the goods still in the back.

“It’s a bit un­be­liev­able. I felt wob­bly, then got that sink­ing feel­ing,” Ms Mar­garet says.

Mr Ste­wart, who was just 62, died af­ter a bat­tle with a rare type of blood can­cer.

“He died very sud­denly. He was only di­ag­nosed in Oc­to­ber and by Jan­uary had passed away.”

Stolen me­men­toes in­cluded fam­ily pho­tos, old books, an or­nate walk­ing stick, a trin­ket box, wood turn­ings hand­made by Mr Ste­wart and a rare set of red En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica, with a gold trim.

Many of the books and pho­tos also had Mr Ste­wart’s name writ­ten on them.

Ms Mar­garet says she made a point of park­ing off the main road af­ter she be­came con­cerned peo­ple let­ting off fire­works might dam­age the van.

“The mo­tor­way is right there and it had a rea­son­able amount of fuel, so it could be any­where.”

While Ms Mar­garet, who is an artist, used the van reg­u­larly to trans­port her sup­plies, she is more con­cerned with get­ting the stolen items back.

“Of course I’d like the re­turn of the van, but most im­por­tantly the be­long­ings were of great value to the fam­ily.”

Mr Ste­wart’s for­mer wife Jenny says many of the be­long­ings that were to be passed on to his five chil­dren and 11 grand­chil­dren may be lost for­ever.

“There wasn’t any­thing of great com­mer­cial value. It’s more a per­sonal and sen­ti­men­tal value - his pieces of wood turn­ing are ir­re­place­able,” she says.

“They all knew their grand­fa­ther and vis­ited him. It’s been a big year for every­one.”

The van, with the regis­tra­tion num­ber OB2436, is recog­nis­able be­cause it was mod­i­fied to in­clude a bed in the back and cur­tains at­tached to the win­dows.

Po­lice say they have no cur­rent lines of in­quiry on the where­abouts of the van or items.

If you have seen the stolen van call the Auck­land Cen­tral po­lice sta­tion 302-6400 or email edcl@snl.co.nz if you come across any of the stolen items.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Out of luck: Jackie Mar­garet, right, was re­turn­ing items from her de­ceased part­ner Bob to his fam­ily, but they were stolen along with her van from Grafton last week. Bob’s for­mer wife Jenny, left, would like the heir­looms re­turned.

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