Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Family's photos and letters stolen before funeral

Michael Harrison was on a walk with his family in the Hunua Ranges when their car was broken into and precious luggage was taken. Photo / Supplied via Michael Harrison
Michael Harrison was on a walk with his family in the Hunua Ranges when their car was broken into and precious luggage was taken. Photo / Supplied via Michael Harrison

An Auckland family has been left devastated after the theft of a suitcase containing precious photos and letters just hours before they were due to catch a flight across the globe to attend a funeral.

Michael Harrison, his partner Julija Rimutyte and the couple's 2-year-old son Marcus Harrison were walking in the Hunua Ranges outside of Auckland yesterday morning when their car was broken into and their luggage stolen.

The couple were taking their son for a last-minute walk to "burn up some of his energy" just five hours before Ms Rimutyte and Marcus were due to fly to Lithuania to attend her mother's funeral when the incident occurred.

"We wanted to get a bit of energy out of [Marcus] so he wasn't too bad on a two-day flight," Mr Harrison said. "When we came back from the walk my window was smashed and [I thought] a rock has just gone through my window. It was gut-wrenching."

A black suitcase containing family photos, notes, postcards, birthday cards, jewellery and "even stuff going back to when she [Ms Rimutyte] was a little girl" was taken along with another suitcase full of clothing and some work gear.

"It is everything. If you come to my house what she has done, because she was taking them to the funeral, so she has taken all the photos down from our walls and everything she owns in that regard. There is nothing in the suitcase that is valuable to anyone," Mr Harrison said. "It is 100 per cent sentimental, [apart from] one camera in there that I don't care about."

Following the discovery, Mr Harrison said he informed police before rushing his partner and son to the airport for their flight.

En-route he said he noticed a work vest which had been discarded on the side of the road out of his car window.

"I pulled over to the side of the road and I picked it up and I read on the back and it said my previous company that I used to work for and I was like oh... [the bag] must be around here, they must have just tossed it and we looked around and all I found unfortunately was the work vest."

Mr Harrison, who has remained in New Zealand, has taken to social media in a desperate search for information on the whereabouts of the bag.

"I would pay to get that back because it would be one less thing for her to worry about," he said.

He planned to spend today driving around Hunua and Papakura in the hopes of finding the suitcase dumped on the roadside.

- NZ Herald

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