A thief stole a heart-shaped, pewter-colored urn with a woman's step-father's ashes inside from a home in Riverside. She's asking it be returned, no questions asked.
"At this point, we just want him home," said step-daughter Heather Berzal
Berzal said the theft happened two weeks ago as she came home around 4:30pm to find several things gone from her Niagara Street apartment - including the urn that sat on her bedroom dresser.
"Every day I wonder where is he? And just pray that somebody just didn't throw him away," said Berzal.
The devastated step-daughter has now posted pictures of the stolen urn online through social media hoping someone will know something or maybe return the urn with no questions asked.
"If you want to drop him off at a fire department, a police department, or just something, we don't have to know who it is as long as we can get him home."
For Berzal and her son, 7, the theft has been traumatic because it occurred almost one year to the date after the man they knew as "Papa" died unexpectedly during a down-state medical procedure. The keepsake urn provided comfort to the family as they dealt with the loss.
"My son comes from home from school and asks, 'Did you find Papa yet?' It kills me to say no."
Berzal said police advised her to file a report, and if a suspect is identified to take him/her to small claims court.
"Small claims court is not going to replace him. There is no amount of money that will replace that," said a tearful Berzal.
Local funeral director John Dengler said it was the first time he had heard of an urn being stolen because they have little value at pawn shops.
"Any reputable pawn shop that would take that in might say, 'Whose urn is that?' And that's when I would hope they would take it and contact authorities," said Dengler.
It is becoming more common for people to keep urns with cremated remains in their homes. While funeral directors recommend having an urn placed in a cemetery or mausoleum to be memorialized, if one if kept at home, including smaller keepsake urns, they should be secured the same way as fine jewelry.
"In a safe or locked drawer, something that cannot be easily opened," explained Dengler.