Pierce County Sheriff's Office spokesman Ed Troyer called it a "unique theft."
The gems, identified as Oregon sunstones, were stolen sometime between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. on April 9 when an unidentified suspect or suspects broke into a truck parked at the Chambers Bay Golf Course in University Place.
About 3,000 gemstones were taken, along with two gold sunstone rings, 30 silver sunstone rings, a gold bracelet containing 34 multi-colored sunstones, an iPhone 4 and a Kindle Fire.
A green Cabelas brand suitcase was also stolen from inside the truck. The suitcase contained the victim's son's ashes, which were anonymously mailed back to the victim several days later.
"We're looking for some thieves here who took a lot of money and property and are off doing car prowls, but have the heart to take the ashes and send them back to the father," Troyer said.
He said detectives believe the gems were taken in a random car prowl
"The thieves just got lucky and got into a car with all these items in it," Troyer said.
He said the Oregon sunstones should be easy to identify.
"They are very unique and there's not going to be a whole lot of people selling these. So if anybody comes across these, we definitely want to know about it, and Crime Stoppers is offering a reward to have them recovered," Troyer said.
He said most of the gems are brown and olive-green in color. Their value is extremely high, he said.