Winnipeg mother calls for return of stolen safe containing late baby daughter’s cherished items

A Winnipeg mother is pleading for help to find a stolen safe containing her last tangible connections to the baby daughter she lost 28 years ago.

Bernice Reeves says the break-in and theft at her St. Vital home over the weekend has caused her to relive the pain from that loss.

“I really would like her back so desperately that I’m really quite prepared to … put this out there, in the hopes that somebody will know something or see something and be able to bring her home,” she said. 

On Saturday evening, Reeves returned to her home in St. Vital to find the front door pried open and her dogs upset. As she rushed to the closet in her master bedroom, she noticed several pieces of jewelry missing. She prayed the safe would still be in its spot at the back of the closet, but it was gone.

“I was on my knees at that point crying,” she said.

Reeves miscarried at 28 weeks and delivered baby Ilea on Feb. 24, 1993.

Health Sciences Centre staff put Ilea’s hand and footprints on a memorial card and gave it to the family, along with the baby’s knitted bonnet, receiving blankets and two Polaroid photos. Reeves stored all of the items, along with the coroner’s report and her daughter’s obituary, in a plastic bag inside the safe, which she bought to withstand any kind of disaster.

“It’s hard on the soul. It’s hard to go back and relive those memories. It just took me right back there, like it was happening fresh all over again that I lost her again for the second time. Since then, I’ve been trying to pull it together and try to find her so she’s back with me,” she said, through tears.

Reeves is asking the public to keep their eyes peeled for a Sentry safe like this one, as it contains her baby daughter’s keepsakes. (Submitted by Bernice Reeves)

The safe is an old, yellow fireproof Sentry model with a combination lock. 

Reeves never imagined it could be stolen. 

“I’m feeling like I didn’t do a great job protecting her. I feel like I lost her a second time,” she said, noting the month of February is already a difficult time every year.

“It’s very fresh and very heartbreaking to know that I still didn’t protect her even though I thought I was going to with that. Putting her stuff in there and just keeping her so quiet. Yeah, it’s difficult.”

After Reeves filed a report with the Winnipeg Police Service, a detective from the Major Crimes Unit visited her at her home on Wednesday, but told her it’s hard to catch these types of thieves without video footage. He advised Reeves to install a camera above her porch as the best deterrent for thieves and best tool to help police solve these crimes.

‘No questions asked’

Reeves issued a call for help on Facebook, writing, “I am reaching out in hopes that someone can help bring her back home to me so we can be together again! If you know of where I can find her please, please, please reach out to me, no questions asked.”

Reeves wants to thank people on social media for their outpouring of concern and support. 

Anyone with information can message her privately on Facebook or contact police. She said the baby items, if anyone sees them, are wrapped in a blue plastic bag.

“I can’t replace that. So I’d like to have her back. With me, where she belongs, in the comfort of home, as best we can.”

WATCH | Bernice Reeves pleads for the return of stolen safe:

Bernice Reeves pleads for the return of a safe containing her baby daughter’s keepsakes after a break-in Saturday night. 2:23