The family's matriarch was 87-year-old Burbank resident Lois LaRocco, who died Aug. 28 due to complications from Alzheimer's. She was cremated and her ashes were placed in an 8-inch-by-11-inch round navy blue leather urn.
The urn was concealed inside a bright purple velvet satchel.
Sometime after 10 p.m., thieves broke into the family's minivan, which was parked outside their home in the 1200 block of Ruberta Avenue, and stole roughly $6,000 worth in valuables, including the urn.
Now the family is asking for the safe return of their loved one's ashes.
“I don't care about the other stuff. I just want her back,” Steve Legino said, adding that thieves took “my kids' grandma.”
Legino's wife, Lily LaRocco, picked up her stepmother's ashes from a local funeral home last week and returned home, leaving the ashes hidden in the back seat of their minivan for three days.
Lily LaRocco said she wasn't ready to bring her stepmother's ashes inside her home and talk about the urn with her young and curious children.
It wasn't until 8 a.m. Monday, when Legino noticed their minivan had been ransacked and burglarized, that they realized the ashes had been taken.
Thieves grabbed a brown fanny pack, miscellaneous beauty items, and Lily LaRocco's Kate Spade purse, which had jewelry inside including an opal necklace, she said.
They quickly noticed that the urn and ashes were also missing.
“I can't even describe what I feel,” Lily LaRocco said. “It's just awful. She was entrusted to me. She was supposed to be with me and she is not.”
Officers were unable to find witnesses or any physical evidence at the scene, according to Glendale police.
Lily LaRocco and Legino had planned a gathering this weekend at their home in memory of Lois LaRocco, who loved family dinners.
“Everything else can be replaced, but she can't be replaced,” Lily LaRocco said.
Anyone with details about the urn can call Glendale police burglary detectives at (818) 548-4045. To remain anonymous, call Glendale Crime Stoppers at (818) 507-7867.