A mother who lost her baby boy to a rare bone marrow disease is distraught after priceless mementos of her son went missing from an airport yesterday.
Dayna Ritchie took reminders of her son Reef Paton, who died last September, wherever she went.
Reef was born on January 25, 2013 and when fourteen months old was diagnosed with congenital amegakaryocytic thrombocytopenia, or CAMT.
The condition meant Reef required platelet transfusions and chemotherapy.
Ms Ritchie and her partner Andre arrived at Auckland International Airport from Great Barrier Island at about 5.30pm yesterday.
"We were waiting for our luggage. We got a trolley and I put my handbag over the back rail," Ms Ritchie said.
"I put my son's ashes in my jacket in the front basket and I was holding a puppy dog. My partner got the luggage off the carousel...and we proceeded to walk out where my mum was waiting to pick us up."
Shortly after, Ms Ritchie and her family realised her handbag was gone. It was a small green leather bag, with only about $10 in cash but irreplaceable reminders of Reef inside.
"What's most special is he had a rose quartz. It was one of the crystals he never ditched...he actually was holding onto it when he passed away."
One of Reef's toy cars was also in the bag and Ms Ritchie said there were over 1000 photos and videos of Reef on her Samsung Galaxy S3.
"I searched the rubbish bins and everything just to make sure someone hadn't ditched it."
Ms Ritchie hoped whoever took the bag would now do the right thing and hand it in. The phone was blocked from making calls or texts, so was of limited use to whoever had it.
The phone screensaver was a picture of Reef taken just before he turned one year old.
Calls to Ms Ritchie's number were not ringing or being picked up, so whoever had the phone had quickly turned it off. However, the photos were still accessible and weren't password-protected.
"They can still access all the files," Ms Ritchie said. "Hopefully they go through the photos and realise what's happened."
Ms Ritchie said there was no sign of a "lost and found" counter operating at the domestic terminal at that time.
She said she contacted police, provided a description of the bag, was told security cameras were "pretty crappy" in the area near the domestic terminal luggage carousel -- and authorities would look into the incident on Monday.
Auckland Airport said a lost and found counter was in the International terminal and help desks were present in the domestic terminal. An airport duty manager did not immediately comment on the quality of CCTV cameras near the carousel. Calls to the police station at Auckland Airport went unanswered and were redirected to a general enquiries line this morning.
Ms Ritchie said anyone who had her phone should hand it into a police station or message her or Mr Paton on Facebook. There, the couple can be reached through the "Reef's journey" Facebook page.