The family of a 4-year-old girl who died after battling brain cancer is feeling devastation again after thieves stole a statue of a hippo that stood near the girl’s Massachusetts grave.

Erin Roderick was diagnosed with brain cancer at 10 months old, and her family said she carried a stuffed hippo, which she named “Purple Hippo,” throughout her entire battle, reported

“It was constant treatment, radiation chemotherapy, surgeries and through it all she had her stuffed hippo with her,” Erin’s mother Michelle told “She loved that hippo with all her being and she would treat it like a person,” she said.

When Erin died shortly before her fifth birthday in 2009, the family buried the hippo with her, and placed a statue of a purple hippo ballerina at her grave.

“When you come to the cemetery, it can be a very sad and difficult thing so to have this statue here would remind us of Erin’s love for hippo and all the good time she had with hippo,” Michelle told the website.

The Roderick’s noticed the statue was missing when they visited the cemetery on what would have been Erin’s ninth birthday.

After confirming with cemetery workers that it was not moved by staff, the family set out to seek help in locating the statue.

“To anyone else it’s just a plastic toy, it means a lot more than that to us,” Erin’s father told

The statue is a figurine from the Disney move “Fantasia,” and has been discontinued so it cannot be replaced, reported.

"Because that was taken from us, I don't feel peaceful here, I feel anger," Michelle said. 

The family is asking anyone with any information to come forward.

“I think my sister at least deserves her things back, her hippo,” her brother said.

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