A solo mother had her car stolen from Palmerston North hospital carpark last week while caring for her young daughter, who was recovering after surgery for an incurable lung condition.
While the theft of the vehicle added a large amount of stress and cost to her family's life because getting to vital weekly doctor's visits would be hard, it was the old iPhone in the glove box containing irreplaceable photos of her six-year-old daughter and family that Brooke Stevens was desperate to get back.
In a statement on social media addressing the thief, Stevens said she really hoped the person who took the car needed it more than she did.
"I am not mad at you," she wrote.
"Trust me, I of all people know that times are tough and that cars aren't cheap so I really do hope that you genuinely need it and this wasn't just for a joyride.
"Yes, you have caused me a great deal of stress and inconvenience but the car can be replaced. What can't be replaced are all the precious photos of my daughter and family that are on that old iPhone which I am sure you have already found in the glove box.
"So please all I ask is that you return the phone. You can have all the clothes and shoes and everything else that is in there all I need is that phone."
Stevens told the Horowhenua Chronicle the phone did not appear to have been switched on since the car was taken - according to her iCloud account - and that as it was an older phone she was concerned it might just be thrown away.
It was the second time Stevens has had a problem at the hospital's carpark. In December at her daughter's last hospital admission, her previous vehicle was broken into and all her petrol siphoned from the tank.
In May last year, media reported multiple car break-ins on the hospital grounds, with 14 vehicles estimated to have been targeted in a single two-week period.
At the time, a hospital spokesman said extra hospital security and police patrols had been instigated.
Stevens said she had been in constant contact with the hospital's security department, and was exasperated they had not yet provided her with CCTV footage of the theft.
"They said it was 'a process.' If I could just get that [footage] posted, someone would know who [the thieves] are," she said.
A MidCentral District Health Board communications spokesperson said the CCTV images would be released to the police on request "as per normal operating procedures" but that no such request had been received.
The spokesperson said a planned upgrade of the car park CCTV system was "nearly complete".
A police spokesperson confirmed the theft had been reported, and said the vehicle was stolen some time between 5am and 12.30pm on Monday March 5.
Police said the vehicle was locked and it appeared from broken glass found on the ground nearby that a window had been smashed to gain entry.
The car stolen last week was one Stevens had only had since Christmas. It is a black 2001 Mazda Familia station wagon with the registration DWY74.
Stevens said anyone with any information on the car or phone could message her on Facebook, return the phone to the hospital reception or even drop it in to a police station and say they found it.
"I don't care to ask any questions. Please, I just really need that phone back," she said.