'I can't replace those memories': West St. Paul man hopes thieves show some compassion

A West St. Paul man who had his home ransacked by thieves this week is making a plea to whoever broke in to return some irreplaceable family items.

Michael Cottes lost hours of video of his late wife and their daughters in break-in

Micahel Cottes stands in front of his West St. Paul home, which was broken into Friday. He's making a plea to the thieves to return a safe containing irreplaceable videos of his late wife and their daughters. (Photo submitted by Michael Cottes)

A West St. Paul man who had his home ransacked by thieves this week is making a plea to whoever broke in to return some irreplaceable family items.

Michael Cottes came home around 4 p.m. Friday to find his house had been broken into, and among the items missing was a safe containing hundreds of hours of video footage of his late wife and their daughters.

He says his heart sank.

"I have insurance. It's going to cover the TVs and tablets and all the other crap that we had, it's just, I can't replace those memories," he told CBC News Saturday.

"It just pains me to think that the girls are going to grow up and not remember their mom's voice, and how kind she was and generous … it's the last ties the girls have to their mom."

Cottes' wife died three years ago and he says he saved over 100 hours of family video to make sure his twin daughters, 11, would remember their time with their mom.

The couple adopted their daughters from China in 2008.

Michael Cottes daughters were 11-months-old when he and his late wife adopted them from China in 2008. (Photo submitted by Michael Cottes)

He put the DVDs in a fire safe along with important documents that included his daughters' original Chinese passports, adoption papers, and his wife's death certificate.

He says nothing in the safe will be of value to the person who stole it. 

While Cottes says police told him thieves normally just throw away stolen items with no cash value, he says he's hopeful the items will be returned to his home on River Springs Drive.

And there's reason for his optimism, he says. 

"They didn't take the girls' piggy banks for some reason, they left those alone," he said.

"I'm hoping that maybe one of them is a dad, you know, or a mom, and that if they had a bit of heart when they came here ... maybe when they open that safe and they see what's in there maybe they can just drive by, put it in a bag and throw it in my grass.

"No questions asked, I would love to have it back, it just means the world to me."

Cottes says if anyone finds the DVDs or the other documents, the materials can be dropped off at the East St. Paul RCMP Detachment or the Bronx Park Community Centre at 720 Henderson Hwy. 

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