LONDON - Thieves have tried to steal an ancient Greek urn containing the ashes of psychoanalysis founder Sigmund Freud, leaving the container severely damaged, police said on Wednesday.

The urn was on display at Golders Green crematorium in north London, alongside memorials to other famous names such as Dracula author Bram Stoker and actors Sid James and Peter Sellers.

Staff found the damaged urn on the floor of the crematorium on New Year's Day.

"This was a despicable act by a callous thief," said Metropolitan Police Detective Constable Daniel Candler in a statement.

"Even leaving aside the financial value of the irreplaceable urn ... the fact that someone set out to take an object knowing it contained the last remains of a person defies belief," he added.

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