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Thieves steal mother's ashes

The discovery that thieves stole her mother's ashes has a Chilliwack woman reliving the death of a loved parent all over again.

Sometime over the weekend, thieves banged in the padlocks and ripped through the two-by-fours of four storage lockers belonging to a single family at the Vibe apartment complex on Yale Road.

They stole the family's recreation equipment, skis, snowboard, rollerblades and camping gear. All told, the equipment cost around $3,000 estimates Shannen-a single mother who doesn't want her last name used.

But something even more important was gone-something with no monetary value but of immeasurable personal importance to Shannen: her mother's ashes.

The ashes were in a black and white pewter urn that was in a box with several other sentimental items linked to her mother, including a singer sewing machine from the 1960s.

Shannen doesn't know why the thieves stole the box, but she does know they opened it and looked inside because a small china memento from Drumheller, Alta., was left behind. But the ashes that Shannen hoped to one day pour out at her father's grave in Saskatchewan are now gone.

"Losing that feels like I just lost my mom all over again," she said, breaking into tears.

Her mother died seven years ago. Before she died, she told Shannen that she didn't want her daughter to carry around her ashes. But Shannen had been unable to bid her mother goodbye.

"I haven't looked at it in a long time. I can't deal with it," she said.

She had hoped to pour her mother's ashes over her father's Saskatchewan grave. The two had divorced when Shannen was young, and she figured it would be a way to reunite the two. But Shannen hadn't yet been able to make it out to Saskatchewan.

Putting the ashes in the storage locker had seemed like a compromise. She wouldn't always be looking at her mother's ashes, but could hold onto them until she could give them a proper home.

But now they're gone.

"Why would somebody want it?" she asked. Shannen said the urn wasn't valuable, but wonders if the thieves thought that maybe the contents of the box might be valuable and just didn't bother to leave the urn behind.

"They have no conscience apparently, obviously."

The ashes are the most pressing

concern, but the stolen camping equipment is also devastating.

Shannen's plans to take her daughter and friends camping to Cultus Lake have been scuttled and replacing the contents won't come easy.

"It just feels like our whole summer has been taken away," said Shannon, who makes her living cleaning houses.

Shannen, her boyfriend and her daughter had just returned Sunday from visiting family in Kamloops when they went to put their bikes in the storage lockers. Wooden cages built with two-by-fours, the lockers are housed in a sprawling room accessed through the underground parking garage of the Vibe. Thieves had snipped the padlocks on two of the lockers and torn apart another two to get to the contents.

"The first thought is 'Holy crap, it's all gone,'" she said. "How do you replace all that? It's taken 12 years to accumulate."

"It seems like we just finally got enough to be able to go camping with what we need," she said. "It just feels like the fun part of life was taken away."

The theft has finally convinced Shannen to tell her landlord that she's moving out of her tidy two-bedroom apartment. She says the smell of marijuana smoke regularly wafts over her building, and that crime and drug dealing is commonplace.

But having her storage units raided was too much.

"It's just the violation of it all," she said. "The apartment is nice. The surroundings? Not so much."

tolsen@chilliwacktimes.com

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