A TREASURED memento that was stolen from a shrine close to where a popular teenager was killed has been returned.
The Hartlepool United football bearing a heartfelt message was left close to the scene where Rhys Hewitt died when he was hit by a car last month.
The 14-year-old’s death sparked a flood of tributes from family and friends at the spot, in Brenda Road, Hartlepool, including one left by his older sister’s boyfriend Jay.
He had placed the football with a personal message written on it to the teenager, who he treated like a younger brother.
But Rhys’ grieving family were devastated during a visit on the day of his funeral to find it had been stolen.
His heartbroken mum Jan Bushnall, from Seaten Carew, described the thieves as “low life” and begged for its return.
But now the ball had been put back close to the tributes, although the circumstances of the theft are not known.
His sister Sophie, 21, said: “I don’t know who took it or why, but it is now back.
“It was dumped near to the tributes, not where it had been before, but it’s back and that’s the main thing.
“We go up quite a lot and we had just gone up to have a look and it was there.
“I’m just so grateful that whoever has taken it had a conscious and put it back.
“The whole thing has been so upsetting but I would like to say a huge ‘thank you ‘to the community for all their support.
“They have been brilliant spreading the message on Facebook and asking about. We are so grateful for all their help.”