STOLEN LAPTOP HELD CHERISHED PHOTOS

Shakira Johnson with her son, Jakir, earlier this week. (Click to enlarge)

By DANIELLE TEPPER

Unlike most parents, Red Bank resident Shakira Johnson does not have the luxury of flipping through old photographs and looking back on her son’s toddler years.

She cannot hold them in her hands and reminisce about his first Christmas, or his seventh birthday party. That quintessential shot of a smile missing two front teeth is likewise missing from her life.

She is a mother who has lost all her photos – twice. And she is asking for help to get back those that she can.

In 2006, Johnson was living in her grandmother’s home on South Pearl Street when it was heavily damaged in an electrical fire.

“We lost everything. If it wasn’t destroyed by the fire, it was ruined by water or smoke damage,” she said. “I lost all my pictures. They were the most important thing to me.”

Johnson had no digital back-ups, at that point. When her albums and frames were lost in the fire, her memories of her now 9-year-old son Jakir, went up in smoke.

Family members gave her copies of posed professional images they owned – class photos and Christmas cards – but those candid moments she treasured were gone forever.

Determined to not let such a tragedy happen again, Johnson began using only digital pictures.

“I stopped making photo albums. Everything just went on the computer to make sure we always had a copy,” she said.

But when she went away for a weekend earlier this month, she let her brother borrow her laptop – and disaster struck again. The house he was living in, also on South Pearl, was burglarized.

“He was robbed. They took all his clothes, his TV, everything. Including my laptop,” said Johnson.

Since then, she’s gotten offers of help. But what she wants most eludes her.

“People have tried to sell me their computers, but it’s not the computer I want back,” she said. “My hope is that whoever took it might read this and just have the heart to mail me the pictures.”

Having already filed a police report, Johnson is now turning to the Red Bank community. She had a friend who placed a similar cry for help with the Asbury Park Press when her purse was stolen, and it worked: the friend’s ID and prescriptions and other essential items were mailed back to her. As an avid reader of redbankgreen, Johnson figured it was worth a shot.

And so, Shakira Johnson sends this plea out to readers of redbankgreen and possibly to the culprit responsible: “I just want my son’s pictures. They’re memories that I can’t get back, and he’s growing up so fast.”

Anyone who has any information regarding the whereabouts of her silver MacBook Pro can email Johnson or call her at 732-895-3886.