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Family pleads with thieves to return father's cremated remains

Joel Pugatch's family is asking the thieves that stole his cremated remains on Friday, Dec. 14, to give them back. (KSNV)

The daughters of 77-year-old Joel Pugatch were in shock when they learned someone stole their father’s cremated remains Friday afternoon, Dec. 14.

An employee with Las Vegas Cremations was in the parking lot of the post office with three packages containing the ashes of three people when a car pulled up and snatched the bags from inside her car.

Deborah Pugatch, one of Joel’s daughters, said on hearing the news, “We were in shock. We were in disbelief. There was a lot of confusion. Probably just a grab-and-go, thinking that it was a Christmas present.”

The thieves likely had no idea they were stealing sacred human remains.

Joel Pugatch died at Sunrise Hospital. He was a resident of Arizona, and his ashes were set to be mailed back to his hometown in Alabama.

Joel’s daughter Rachel Storey said, “He just wanted to come back home, So, ultimately we just wanted him to come back home to us.”

On Saturday, Dec. 15, Joel’s family gathered in Arizona for his memorial where they learned about the theft just minutes before the service started.

Their only hope is that the thieves who stole their father’s ashes will sympathize and return them.

Rachel Storey said, “He is not replaceable. This is not a Christmas gift. This is our father. He was a grandfather. Please just turn it in, no questions asked. We already lost him once. We don’t want to do it again.”

An unbelievable story, and tonight the family is pleading with the thieves to return their father’s remains.

The car used in the theft is described as a black four-door car.

It’s believed to be an older model Honda Civic or Accord.

Also, the packages had very specific labels reading ‘Cremated Remains’ on the boxes.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

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