Police recover 1 box of stolen pet ashes, arrest burglary suspects


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SALT LAKE CITY — A man whose home was recently burglarized had a message for the thieves: keep all the electronics but give back the ashes of my dogs.

It took a little bit of investigative work and DNA matching, but Tuesday night detectives believe they've caught the burglars. Now they're working on getting back one of the dog's ashes.

The crime happened when Robb McPhail went on vacation from Nov. 13 to Nov. 22. When he returned, he found a window on a back door of his Avenues home had been broken and several items from his home were missing, said Salt Lake police detective Cary Wichmann.


"Enjoy the 32" TV and the 60" TV along with the iPad, speakers, DVD players, Dish console, etc. We don't care about those items. However, the 2 Pet Urns you took have no value to you." -Robb McPhail

Even though flat-screen TVs and DVD players were taken, what McPhail was most concerned about was two cedar boxes that contained the ashes of his dogs, "Nittany" and "Griffey."

"I'm sure they thought they were jewelry boxes," McPhail said. "It meant nothing to them. It absolutely had no monetary value to anyone else, but they're of the utmost importance to my wife and I."

McPhail and his wife owned the dogs for about 17 years each, and he says they were like children to them. "We get that the dogs are dead, but these are keepsakes that we really had expected to have with us for the rest of our lives," he said.

So, McPhail took out an ad on ksl.com directly addressing the person, or people, who burglarized his home.

"Enjoy the 32" TV and the 60" TV along with the iPad, speakers, DVD players, Dish console, etc. We don't care about those items. However, the 2 Pet Urns you took have no value to you. If you still have them, we'd sincerely appreciate you to somehow arrange for their return (no questions asked)."

Police recover 1 box of stolen pet ashes, arrest burglary suspects
Photo: KSL Classifieds

McPhail went on to write that he'd be willing to give a reward, "exceeding anything you were able to get on the resale of the electronics you grabbed so it would be a big win for you to do a good deed."

Tuesday afternoon, though, he got a phone call from detectives in West Valley and Salt Lake. Police matched blood left at his home to another crime. Three people are now in custody, and officers seized one of the McPhails' urns with the ashes still inside.

"One is still missing in action, but they did recover one of them," McPhail said happily.

McPhail said police investigators are going to talk more with the suspects and try and get more information from them. Their names have not yet been released.

As for that other urn, McPhail is still offering a $1,000 reward for its return. Anyone with information can call McPhail at 801-364-3450, or Salt Lake police at 801-799-3000.

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Written by Pat Reavy and Alex Cabrero.

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