SAN FRANCISCO - A family from Charlotte, North Carolina is in the Bay Area to spread their loved one's ashes. But on Wednesday, while visiting Fisherman's Wharf, someone broke into their rental car and took the ashes from the trunk.
This would have been Joe Wilkinson's 57th birthday on Thursday. It seems his family attempted to do everything right, including not leaving everything in plain view in the rental vehicle, They're hoping SFPD will help them recover Joe's remains.
Mary Wilkinson and her daughter Julia came to Fisherman's Wharf to honor Joe's life and love of Dungeness crab before spreading his ashes. But in the few hours they had before their room was ready, someone broke into their rental car trunk, stealing a suitcase, Mary's wallet and Joe's remains.
VIDEO: Family searching for ashes stolen in SF
"Now I feel like I wasn't even responsible to keep him safe," said Mary.
"Just knowing that they took my dad and they don't even know probably what it is and it has no value to them... what if they just throw it in the trash, you know. He deserves more," said Julia.
The Wilkinsons say they called San Francisco Police Department. Dispatchers directed them to fill out an online report even after they explained what was stolen.
"I just felt like the police should have said that they were human remains, that's serious. That's something that is priceless," said Mary.
The family contacted reporters, hopeful someone would see their story and possibly recognize a scatter tube in a velveteen case.
Car break-ins around Fisherman's Wharf are nothing new. Filling out an online report is standard protocol but San Francisco police say in special circumstances like this one, they will investigate further.
After ABC7 News called police, officers met the Wilkinsons at the garage on Thursday to dust for prints and look for surveillance video.
SFPD says anyone who feels they need more of a response from police after a car break-in can go to any police station and ask to speak with officers directly to explain.
It's something the Wilkinsons didn't know before Thursday.
"They've taken every bit of information, you know. Unfortunately a day late," said Mary.
They're hopeful others will learn from their story and that they'll have the chance to spread Joe's ashes before they return home in a few days.