It also held Rita's ashes. Mogck, 71, planned to fly with them to Hanau, Germany - Rita's birthplace - for burial. He was in the midst of securing permission from the German government to bring her cremated remains into the country.
"Her ashes are all I care about," says Mogck sadly, sitting in the living room of his split-level on Walley Avenue, which bends around a quiet neighborhood of single homes off of Welsh Road.
He blames himself for losing Rita's ashes.
The morning of the theft, a man knocked on Mogck's front door and said the city had hired him to trim trees limbs near power lines. The man wanted to inspect the property line behind Mogck's house. Up the block, a tree service was loudly running chopped branches through a wood chipper. Mogck never thought to ask for identification.
"I heard the trucks. I assumed he was with them," he says. "I should've asked for proof."
The man was stocky, about 5 feet 7 inches, wore a three-quarter-length black coat and a wool cap. He had a scar over his lip and spoke with a slight Hispanic-sounding accent. He was friendly.
"He said, 'Can I come in? It's cold out here,' " recalls Mogck.
Mogck let the man into his living room and locked the door behind them. They walked through the kitchen and down some steps to a backyard door. Before they went outside, the man asked Mogck to adjust the home's water pressure.
"He said something about the water interfering with the tree work," says Mogck. "It didn't make sense to me, but I wasn't really thinking."
Mogck left the man by the door and returned to the kitchen to fiddle with pipes. He wonders if the man used that moment to let accomplices into the house, who hid until Mogck and the man went into the yard.
It's a huge property, and the man walked Mogck to its far corner, their backs to the house, and discussed the trees. Weirdly, he was on the phone the whole time, appearing to listen to someone while he also spoke with Mogck. Perhaps the thieves were telling him what they'd found.
"It was odd but I didn't say anything," Mogck says, frustrated.
Finally, the man said he needed tools and left the yard through a side gate. Mogck re-entered the house and immediately saw that the rug by the front door had been pushed to the side, and the front door was open.
"I ran upstairs to the bedroom right away," he says. "The safe was gone."
Moving it would have required at least two men. Designed to hold guns (Mogck owns none), it was made of dark-green metal, stood 5 feet high and 2 feet wide and had been bolted to the floor. The thieves ripped it out.
In front of the house are scrapes on the cement steps where it appears the safe had been dragged to the driveway. A neighbor's surveillance video shows a grayish Chrysler Town and Country van backing into Mogck's driveway and taking off shortly after. It then shows the man, farther up Walley Avenue, getting into the van.
"We're unable to read the tag on the van," says Philly Detective James Severa, and the image of the man is too blurry to offer much help. "We believe the thieves are Gypsies, since this is typical of how they operate; one of them distracts the homeowner while the others enter the house."
Mogck's life has been upended by the theft.
The safe contained the deed to his home, which he must replace before he can sell his house this spring. It held his passport and Social Security card, neither of which can be replaced without his birth certificate, which was also in the safe. He was born in Austria, so he must get a new one from overseas.
Dealing with the paperwork is exhausting. But the guilt about Rita's ashes is killing him.
"I blame myself," he says. "My concentration hasn't been good."
How could it be, for a man still mourning the love of his life? His shoulders sag in shame. For 40 years, he'd been a roofer, a careful man proud of his ability to assess risk then plan wisely. It wasn't like him to allow a stranger into his house. He is bewildered by his own actions.
He and Rita had no children. So he is leaning on his niece, Corina Diehl, for support.
"I've spent hours crying with him. He told me that he had promised my aunt before she died that he would take her home" to Germany, says Diehl, who is offering a $2,000 reward for the ashes' return. "I don't want my uncle spending the rest of his life thinking he let my aunt down."
I ask Mogck if he is afraid to stay in his home, now that it's been invaded by heartless men. Does he fear they might return?
"What can they take?" he asks helplessly. "They've already taken everything."
If you know the whereabouts of Rita Mogck's ashes, call Ronnie Polaneczky at 215-854-2217.
On Twitter: @RonniePhilly