SAN FRANCISCO—A North Carolina mother and daughter visiting San Francisco were reunited with their loved one’s stolen ashes courtesy of the San Francisco Police Department. The ashes were among a number of things taken after someone broke into the family’s rental car near the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Joe Wilkinson died from a heart attack eight months ago. Julia and her mom Mary Wilkinson arrived in San Francisco so they could spread his ashes. The family parked in a Fisherman’s Wharf garage on the 500 block of Beach Street as they waited for their hotel room to be ready. While the family was out, someone broke into the trunk of their rental car. The suspect took a wallet, suitcase and Joe’s remains.  San Francisco was one of Joe’s favorite cities.

Julia and Mary called police and dispatchers told them to fill out an online report even after they explained what was stolen. The family decided to call reporters when they felt filling out the online report wouldn’t be enough to get back Joe’s ashes.

ABC 7 News contacted the SFPD on April 13, on behalf of the Julia and Mary. Officers then met with the women at the garage to conduct a thorough investigation. The family received a call on Saturday, April 15, that someone had turned Joe’s ashes in to one of the undercover officers.

According to a press release from the SFPD, Central Station Investigators quickly identified an adult male as a person of interest. On Saturday, April 15, at approximately 2:20 p.m. Central Station plain clothes officers working an auto burglary abatement operation saw the person of interest and made contact with him at Chestnut and Montgomery Streets.

During the investigation, the subject told police the location of the container. The subject contacted a friend who later met the officers with the container. The officers seized the container, the contents of which appeared intact. The individual was detained and later released pending further investigation. Due to the ongoing investigation, the identity of the detained person of interest is not being released at this time.

This incident is still an ongoing investigation. SFPD is asking anyone with information on this case to contact the San Francisco Police anonymously at 415-575-4444 or text-a-tip to TIP411 with SFPD at the start of the message.

Written By Deanna Morgado and Casey Jacobs