Alton man hopes thief will return important family keepsakes

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ALTON, IL (KTVI) – The victim of a backpack theft in Alton, Illinois has promised not to press charges if the thief returns the bag. That’s because the backpack contained the dog tags and a mini urn containing a part of his brother’s remains.

Gabriel Patton was a Private Frist Class in the U.S. Army. He was killed in a car crash in Edwardsville while on leave from Ft. Leonard Wood. Shane Patton keeps the dog tags and mini urn in a backpack so he can keep those items close at hand. He takes the backpack with him every day to work.

“When you lose someone close to you like that, you know, you miss him every day,” said Patton.

Patton said the backpack was stolen overnight Friday from his unlocked car parked in his driveway on Evergreen Avenue. He’s hoping to recover the dog tags and mini urn, even though he realizes the items could be gone for good.

“Anytime I heard the backpack jingle those dog tags, it would remind me of him,” Patton said. “That’s why it was in my backpack and not stashed in a jewelry box or the top drawer of a dresser. It was meant to be with me every day.”

He hopes criminals realize how devastating it is to have an item with so much meaning stolen.

“I understand people are desperate and will do anything they can to meet their needs but I don’t think they realize how thefts like that hurt people,” Patton said. “I don’t wish ill for this person. I just wish they would give us our items back that mean so much to us.”