Thieves steal cremated ashes from widow

Burglars who broke into a Costa Mesa home this week made off with an ebony-inlaid box with far more sentimental than cash value.

The container held the ashes of the homeowner's late husband.

"It's pretty sick," said the widow, who the Daily Pilot is not identifying because she's a crime victim.

When the woman returned home from work Wednesday evening, she noticed that a silver tea set was missing and cupboards throughout her house were ajar.

After running upstairs, she saw her dresser drawers upturned and clothes dumped on the floor.

She could not find the box, which she kept next to her bed, or a crucifix necklace that also held some of her husband's ashes. He died in 2012.

"The other stuff I don't care about," the woman said. "That's the stuff that was devastating."

Police say someone pried through a back door to get into the home near Shiffer Park, where the 405 and 73 freeways meet.

Crime scene investigators swept the home Wednesday and officers interviewed neighbors, but the Costa Mesa Police Department said it doubts anything will come of the case.

"It's not going to get a detective, to be honest with you," said Sgt. Stephanie Selinske, who oversees property crimes.

She explained that only one detective is available to field the case, and he's flooded with active investigations.

"I could not give him anything for six months, and he probably wouldn't get through all of them," she said.

Many property crimes without solid leads are left unassigned, according to the sergeant.

"This one — unfortunately for this victim — barring us getting [finger]prints, it will be a dead case," Selinske said.

Police distributed a picture and description of the missing box, and detectives will check in with pawn shops as they do routinely.

The victim and her 31-year-old daughter, who lives nearby in Costa Mesa, have been trying to recover the box themselves.

They scoured eBay and called pawnshops to see if someone tried to sell it. They dug through trash cans in the nearby park hoping someone had dumped the contents there.

"I honestly don't think they knew what it was," the daughter said of the burglars.

She pleaded for them to return the remains of her stepfather, in any way feasible.

"Just throw the ashes back over the fence," she said.

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