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*UPDATED 14/08/18*

A bereaved pet owner is appealing for information after a van carrying her Lhasa Apso’s ashes was stolen outside the driver’s home in Avening, Gloucestershire.

Laura Peskin was already grieving the loss of her beloved dog Matty when she received the devasting news that the crematorium van delivering the casket had been stolen. Laura is appealing for information about the whereabouts of the van or the 60-litre container which was carrying the pets’ ashes.

Matty was adopted by Laura in 2016 after his previous owner – a customer of Laura’s dog boarding business Laura’s Little Lodgers – suddenly passed away. Matty was originally going to be rehomed with a friend but when he lost his sight to sudden onset glaucoma, Laura decided to rehome him as he was more familiar with her home.

Laura adopted Matty in 2016 after his owner passed away

Laura cared for the 11-year-old through some difficult health challenges but when his stomach became swollen earlier this year, she made the gut-wrenching decision. Matty was put to sleep on 19 July at Hall Place Veterinary Centre, Maidenhead.

His body was sent for cremation at Lime Kiln Crematorium in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and on the 25 July his casket and several others were loaded into a delivery van to be transported back to their veterinary centres. At some point during the night of the 25 July and early morning of the 26 July, the driver’s van was stolen from outside his home. The tracker was later found in Nailsworth but there have not been any sightings of the van or the boxes containing the ashes.

Says Laura, “They must be somewhere. How could no one have seen the van? It’s ludicrous.”

It’s not clear how many pet owners have been affected but Laura has spoken to several owners who are searching for answers and has launched a dedicated Facebook page to appeal for information.

Laura says she is “totally distraught”

Laura says on Facebook, “I am totally distraught and need as much help as you can give me to bring him safely home.”

Gloucestershire Constabulary has issued this statement:

“In the early hours of Thursday 26 July police received a report that a white Ford transit van (VA65VBF), which contained pets’ ashes, had been stolen from The Sunground in Avening.

The incident happened between 11.30am on Wednesday 25 July and 2.33am on Thursday.

Anyone with information about this incident should call police on 101 and quote incident 47 of 26 July.”

A spokesperson for Limekiln Farm cremation said, “Truly we couldn’t be sorrier for the loss of this owner’s pet’s ashes. As pet owners ourselves we would be equally upset. This has never happened before at Limekiln. In hindsight the theft might have been more difficult had the van been out of public sight. We have tracker devices in all our vehicles so we and our staff had made a reasonable assumption the police would always be able to find any stolen vehicles. As we now know the trackers can be removed and unless the vehicle is traced we are unlikely to recover it or its contents. As we’ve subsequently learned the theft is believed to have been part of a coordinated theft by a professional gang who stole over twenty different vehicles over several days. For our part we’ve already reviewed and stringently tightened our vehicle security and collection procedures. 

“What makes this theft sadder is the lack of value other than the sentimental importance of the ashes. As these would occupy a relatively small volume in the van we can only assume the thief has discarded them. Each box is registered and labelled and traceable back to the vet they were intended to be returned to. Dog’s Monthly readers have our personal assurance we will keep looking and reminding the police that this theft is more significant than a return of missing property.” 

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