AUSTIN (KXAN) — A woman in Texas is urging a thief to return a pair of lawn ornaments that held special sentimental value for her family: They contained the cremated ashes of her parents.

Gail Hines, of Austin, kept a series of glass decorations known as “gazing balls” in her front yard for a decade. So when Hines’ parents passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic, the family didn’t think twice about having the ashes put into custom gazing balls to be placed out front as a memorial.

Those gazing balls were designed specifically with the personalities of Hines’ parents in mind. Her mother, in particular, also loved to be outside.

But on Wednesday night, a thief came along and snagged the gazing balls — ashes and all.

“I look over at my gazing ball garden, and it just seemed to be a little bit light,” Hines said. “Mom and dad are gone.”

Gazing balls, if purchased brand-new, run anywhere from $25-$60, with additional costs for stands and sand. But for the Hines family, the value of these particular gazing balls is immeasurable.

Hines did not reach out to police — she didn’t believe they would be able to do anything about the stolen ashes or decorations — but she is asking anyone who might know anything about the theft to reach out. She even set up an email specifically for tips.

Gazing balls
The gazing balls, which were custom-made, were filled with the cremated ashes. (Courtesy Garrett Hines)

The family doesn’t know much about the thief, other than that he drove an older silver sedan. Hines is also holding out hope that he, too, sees the story and returns the gazing balls.

“There was no way for him to know that my two parents were in those gazing balls,” Hines said. “Please just bring back my parents.”