Thieves in Plainville strike memorial to home invasion family - CBS 5 - KPHO

Thieves in Plainville strike memorial to home invasion family

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CHESHIRE, CT (WFSB) -

A gazebo put up in memory of a Cheshire woman and her two daughters killed in a brutal home invasion was the target of vandalism.

The Petit Family Foundation said planters and garlands decorating that gazebo have been stolen and torn off in recent weeks. And it isn't the first time it's happened. 

Officials with the Petit Family Foundation said they've tried different ways to keep these decorations from getting stolen, using zip ties and wires to try to secure things to the gazebo.

However, officials said none of that is working, and really, they don't understand why anyone would destroy something meant to stand as a memorial to these three lives lost.

Volunteers spent Thursday afternoon rehanging holiday baskets and securing them tightly with zip ties. One of those volunteers helping with the cleanup was Dr. William Petit. The gazebo stands in memory of his late wife and two daughters.

"It was just sad the first morning I came by and the flowers were torn down and stuff was thrown," said Petit, who is the lone survivor of the Cheshire home invasion. "You just figure people must have better things to do."

The gazebo and surrounding benches were put up here in Plainville's Norton Park just a year after Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughter's Hayley and Michaela were killed in a brutal home invasion.

Their photo stands at the entrance to the gazebo, and gives residents here a place to read, meet for coffee, or just sit and reflect.

But the memorial's caretaker said many times, she's found these hanging baskets thrown in the nearby canal, or just plain missing.

"When they're stealing from this gazebo they're basically stealing from the cemetery," said caretaker Kim Queali. "Its a memorial, these girls mean a lot to a lot of people."

Queali said they've thought about securing the planters right into the wood, but they're worried the thieves would just cause damage to the gazebo.

Officials with the Petit Family Foundation said the Plainville Police Department has increased their patrols in the area, but Petit's message Thursday night was for the thieves themselves.

"Please respect your fellow citizens. The gazebo was put up for the people of Plainville, and it was put up in memory of my family," he said. "Please respect our families and please respect other people's property."

The volunteers have started marking the hanging baskets in some places just in case someone tries to give them as a gift during the holiday season.

The Petit Family Foundation is asking residents in the Norton Park area to keep an eye out. If you see anything suspicious, especially after dark, please call the Plainville Police Department at 860-747-1616.

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