A 61-year-old man has been left devastated after burglars broke into his home and stole the ashes of his dead wife which were kept in a green velvet drawstring bag.
Thieves broke into the man's home in Telford, Shropshire, while he was out, forcing open a kitchen window before making off with the bag.
Following a thorough and untidy search of the property, the thieves also stole other items including a Sony LCD television, West Mercia police said.
A police spokesman said: "The victim of this burglary... is absolutely devastated by the theft of his wife's ashes and although the chances are probably slim, he would appeal to the thieves to return the bag containing the ashes if they do still have it in their possession.
"The thieves probably didn't realise what was in the bag when they stole it from the address but obviously it is something that is of great importance to the victim. If there's any way the ashes can be returned to their rightful owner it's fair to say that it would be one of the best Christmas presents ever."
The burglary was carried out in the Red Lake area of the town on the evening of December 12.
The victim did not immediately realise his wife's ashes had been stolen, the spokesman said.
© Press Association 2009