A WOMAN was left distraught after thieves stole her handbag as she was leaving flowers in memory of her son.
Doreen Porter left the bag in the footwell of her daughter’s car while the two of them were tying five white roses to the walkway at Marsh Lock in Henley to remember her son Michael, who took his own life on Christmas Eve 2003, aged 22.
The Ford Focus was parked in the car park in Mill Lane, next to Henley Town Football Club, between 2.45pm and 3.15pm on December 23.
The handbag was later found in St Andrew’s Road but about £140 in cash and supermarket vouchers worth £35 had been taken.
A spare key to the car was also stolen and the family have been told it will cost about £500 to replace.
Mrs Porter, 56, lived in Clements Road, Henley, for 28 years before moving to Weymouth in 2015 and returns each year to lay flowers at the lock, where her son used to fish.
This year she was accompanied by her 33-year-old daughter Hannah but they returned to the car to find the passenger side window had been smashed.
Mrs Porter said: “We were only gone about 20 minutes. I said, ‘oh my God’ when I saw the damage and I felt physically sick because of all the smashed glass.
“It was starting to get dark and we were in a state of shock and panic because of what had happened and the significance of it.
“Luckily, my ex-husband, who still lives in Henley, met us and drove my daughter’s car to his house.”
Her other daughter Charlie Baker, 30, who lives in Reading, picked them up at the Esso petrol station in Reading Road.
Mrs Baker also called her mother’s mobile and it was answered by Peter South, who had found the handbag in the hedge at his home in St Andrew’s Road.
“He explained he’d heard a commotion outside,” said Mrs Porter.
Photographs of her son and her mother Anne Case were still in the handbag along with her bank cards.
Mrs Porter, who worked on the checkouts at Waitrose for 14 years, said: “It has been very upsetting and obviously costly and it’s still going on.
“We paid £179 to get the window mended but we can’t put it up or down because of damage to the framework.”
She called the thieves “scum” but said the incident would not stop her returning each year.
“We have done it every year,” she said. “We’re determined to come back to put the roses there because it means something to us.”
Police are investigating. Anyone with information should call the Thames Valley Police non-emergency number, 101.