HUDSON (CBS) – Four-year-old Erin Roderick and her stuffed purple hippo were inseparable. The hippo was there as she battled brain cancer, and it was placed in the casket with Erin when she passed away in 2009.

At her gravesite, her parents placed a one-foot-tall dancing hippo statue that was painted purple as a remembrance. To Erin’s family, the statue was priceless.

Hippo statue stolen from Erin Roderick's grave.

Hippo statue stolen from Erin Roderick’s grave.

“It’s a symbol of her love of her hippo that was with her through her entire illness. Her hippo is buried with her, that’s how much it meant to her,” Erin’s mom Michelle Roderick told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic.

But on June 23, the day that would have been Erin’s ninth birthday, Michelle and her husband James went to visit Erin’s grave, only to find the statue was gone.

“It brought us a little bit of peace to go there and see the hippo and the flowers. I just feel angry now when I go there,” Roderick said. “I feel violated. I’ve gone there every night since then to see if the hippo would appear again.”

Replacing the statue does not appear to be an option. Roderick says Disney discontinued the particular model.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mark Katic reports

She says she was told that other families have suffered similar losses, but is hopeful that whoever took the statue gains a conscience.

“I want to be hopeful that they do the right thing and return it,” she said.

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