Cremated cat came back: Stolen pet ashes turned in to police

Zsuzsa the cat didn’t rise from the dead in time for Easter Sunday, but the mysterious return of the beloved feline’s ashes in time for the holiday was the next best thing for her Burnaby owner.

“I am so relieved to have Zsuzsa’s ashes with me,” wrote Jennifer Steel in an email to the NOW. “I escaped a deep and dark depression. I could feel it coming. Now, I am stunned and filled with thankfulness.”

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Steel got Zsuzsa as a kitten in 2006 but had to have her put her down last month after the tabby lost a brief battle with cancer.

Steel’s brother Rowan had paid for a private cremation through the Until We Meet Again pet memorial centre and was en route to deliver a cedar urn containing Zsuzsa’s ashes to Steel on St. Patrick’s Day when a thief made off with Rowan’s bags as he was having a burger at the Sixth Street Burger King in New Westminster.

Steel and her brother searched the area and reported the theft to New Westminster police but were told the return of the ashes was very unlikely.

“I didn’t hold out much hope that they’d see anything again,” Sgt. Mike Garbutt told the NOW.  

On March 31, however, Steel got a call.

An officer who reviewed security video footage of the Burger King theft had been on patrol the following night and spotted a man who resembled the thief.

By the time the officer turned around, the man had disappeared, but, with a little digging, the officer identified a possible suspect.

He and another officer went to the suspect’s last known residence but were told to f*** off when they tried to question him.

A few days later, however, an unidentified man walked into the New West police station with a bag containing the cedar urn and a clipping of a story about Zsuzsa’s missing ashes and Steel’s plea for their return in the New Westminster Record, the NOW’s sister paper. He promptly left without providing any more information.

“I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that the person that turned the ashes in was quite likely the same person that they were trying to get a hold of, although we can’t confirm that,” Garbutt said.

Steel was thrilled, and Zsuzsa’s cedar urn now rests on her bedroom dresser.

“I hope that this man had the best Easter weekend possible and that life gets a whole lot better for him,” Steel wrote in an email. “I hope he feels good about himself, knowing he saved me from a deep, dark depression.”

While there is some evidence that would support charges in the case, according to Garbutt, the department won’t pursue them.

“This file is now closed,” he said. “These folks were interested in getting the cat’s ashes back, so we’ve accomplished that.”

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