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Family pleads: Bring back mementos stolen from teen's grave

A family in Harnett County has a simple message for vandals: Stop stealing items from our son's memorial.

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ERWIN, N.C. — A family in Harnett County has a simple message for vandals: Stop stealing items from our son's memorial.

"Please bring Preston's stuff back where it belongs," grandmother Willie Wood said.

Kirby Preston Woods was 16 when he died in a car crash two years ago. His family decorates his grave with signs, flags and mementos, many of them in his favorite color: purple, only to find them gone the next time they visit.

Willie Wood says seeing the colorful display of items at her grandson's grave site eases the pain of losing him.

"Purple was his color," she said with a laugh. "Purple and orange. Purple was his best color."

His family added a flag with his picture to his grave site only to see it stolen. Also missing: a bowling ball on a stand and a purple bench his aunt installed.

"It's heartbreaking," grandmother Willie Wood said. "To come out here, and things that she's worked on and things that she's done trying to keep it looking nice, to have a place that his friends can come, and then you come out here and it's gone."

The thefts have made the emotional toll of Kirby's loss greater for his mother, Billie Bradshaw.

"It's a shame that anyone would come here and take things like that," she said. "I'm trying to find peace as it is after losing my child and this happens."

The total value of the lost items is in the hundreds of dollars, but family members say the sentimental value is what hurts the most.

"These weren't things we bought," Bradshaw said. "These are things we put a lot of thought into, and this is my son's resting place."

Willie Wood even offered to share mementos of her grandson with those who ask.

Despite their losses, the family pointed out that the boy they called Preston continues to give, even in death. He was an organ donor.

Anyone with information about the theft of items from the grave of Kirby Preston Woods is asked to contact the Erwin Police Department at 910-897-5122.

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