A grieving mum threatened at gunpoint in a brutal armed robbery says all she cares about is her stolen smartphone because it contains precious images of her disabled daughter who died last year.
Three robbers escaped with 60,000 ARS (1,132 GBP) in cash, as well as a van and valuables, in the raid outside Dolores Pettignani’s home in the town of Tolosa in the La Plata district of eastern Argentina’s Buenos Aires Province.
The thieves pointed a gun at her head and threatened to kill her – but Dolores, 41, says the pictures and videos of her daughter Lucia are all that concern her and she has issued a social media appeal for their return.
Lucia, also known as ‘Luli’, who was born prematurely with cerebral palsy, died six months ago at the age of 10 from an infection in the intensive care unit of a hospital where she was being treated for breathing difficulties.
Dolores says she and her partner Augusto, a building contractor, had been preparing for a work trip to the town of Alberti, Buenos Aires Province, when the robbers struck.
Augusto had gone back into the house for some keys and a pillow, leaving Dolores waiting in the passenger seat when three men approached
Dolores said: “One spoke to me and I told him I could not hear what he was saying. I was about to lock the door when he pulled it open and shouted: “Give me everything or I will kill you. The money, the money!”.
“He pointed the gun at me. Fortunately, he didn’t shoot. I was paralysed with fear. Seconds later, another man appears and orders me to get out or he would kill me and I was dragged out of the van.”
Augusto heard the shouts and ran back to the van to beg the robbers not to kill Dolores. But they threatened him too.
Dolores added: “I had my mobile phone in my hands, I wanted to keep it safe, or throw it to the ground, but they grabbed it, they took everything.”
As well as the phone, the couple lost 50,000 ARS (943 GBP) in cash which they had to pay workers’ wages and another 10,000 ARS (189 GBP) they needed to pay a debt.
The robbers also took the van and its contents, including a laptop, two electronic tablets and another mobile phone,
But Dolores said: “All I want is the pictures of my daughter back. The other material is important because it cost us a lot, but the mobile phone is more important.
“I thought I was going to be killed, but I have a guardian angel, my Luli, she took care of us.”
The empty van was later found and police have launched an investigation into the robbery. No arrests have been made so far.