Jacqueline Hardwick’s 40th birthday was already a sad occasion on Sunday as her mum Valerie had died six weeks’ previously.
But the occasion was even more upsetting after the break-in, which happened while she remembered her mother at Worthing Crematorium.
Thieves stole her handbag, which contained hundreds of pounds of valuables and a treasured picture of her and her mother.
She said: “I carried the picture everywhere with me and even took it home from work in case it got stolen.
“I couldn’t care less about everything else but losing the picture was awful.
“I just felt so upset that day and didn’t know I could be even more upset. It was my 40th birthday and my dad’s birthday, too, which made it worse.”
Miss Hardwick, who lives in London, regularly visited her parents in Worthing and had travelled especially to visit the crematorium at the weekend.
Her mother’s ashes are due to be interred at the crematorium but staff had reserved a space in the memorial garden for the family to visit in the meantime.
She said: “When I got back to the car park about 20 minutes later everyone was crowded round the car and the back window was smashed, with glass everywhere.
“I couldn’t believe it had happened in a crematorium. One lady gave me a big hug and said she was sorry.
“I didn’t know what to do.”
For the full story, see the Worthing Herald, out Thursday, July 10.