Thieves also stole memories of Nick when they took his kayaks
A DEVASTATED mum is begging thieves who took her late son's kayaks to return them before the anniversary of his death.
Nick Burns, from Slades Road in St Austell, died from sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) at the age of 22, on September 1, 2011.
Mum Charlotte Lean said he loved to kayak, and one of her last memories of him was of the family taking their two boats out on the sea together.
Overnight on Thursday, the two bright orange kayaks, which are worth nearly £800 and were chained together on the front drive, were stolen.
"We're all absolutely devastated; those kayaks have a massive sentimental value," said Mrs Lean, a mother of five.
"I couldn't stop crying thinking how awful it is. Once you've lost someone, if you have a small connection then you hold on to it because you can't create new memories.
"On the anniversary of Nick's death last year we took them out to Charlestown harbour and I did a jump from the harbour because he used to love doing that. This year, we were going to take them down to Porthpean.
"It would have taken two people to lift those kayaks and they would've needed a van too, so it must have been premeditated. I was brought up in Cornwall and only now, at the age of 44, am I learning that you can't be as trusting as we used to be.
"Nick was such a lovely lad and I know he would have said, 'Mum, it's in the past; get over it'; I've heard him say that so many times and he was usually right."
Husband Tim, Nick's dad and a St Austell firefighter, said: "The other firefighters and their children all used to use the kayaks too. They benefited a lot of people."
Local police community support officer Wendy Christophers said thefts of boats and equipment had risen over the summer.
"This is a particularly emotive crime because the kayaks had a high sentimental value," she said.
"We would urge whoever took them to return them to their rightful owners.
"I would also ask people to ensure kayaks and marine craft are kept securely."
Another kayak was stolen from the back garden of a house in Rosina Way, Penwithick, between August 5 and 9.
Anyone with information about either crime is being asked to call police on 101.