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Thieves stealing from recently deceased after reading obituaries

LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ind. -- Investigators are searching for thieves targeting the dead.

Recently, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office has noticed a trend in several burglary reports.  Detectives believe thieves are reading the obituaries and then hitting the homes belonging to the recently deceased.

“It is not a good thing and we need to stop it,” said Aaron Shoults, Chief Deputy with the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.

Since the end of January, there have been at least six home burglaries and in each case, the homeowner’s obituary was published just days before the crime.

“What we see is a deliberate effort, this is not a random crime,” said Shoults.

The thieves aren’t even waiting until the funeral.  It appears the burglars know that family members will be making funeral arrangements, which will require them to be away from the home.

“The last thing on their mind is someone is going to break into their loved one’s home and that’s exactly what’s happening,” said Shoults.

In these recent reports, detectives tell CBS4 burglars got into the homes by kicking in a door.  They stole thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry, TV’s, tools, and even medication.  In one case, an ATV was stolen.

Investigators think it’s either the same thieves or a group working together.  It’s possible the burglars scout out a home before they strike. Most of the break-ins are happening in the overnight hours.

“We think a neighbor may have seen something and just not realized that vehicle or that person didn’t belong,” said Shoults.

As if dealing with a death isn’t hard enough, now these families are dealing with finding the criminal that took advantage that of them during one of their saddest times.

“It’s certainly a new twist in the tale of how things go and how society things and what people are willing to do for whatever their reasons may be,” said Shoults.

Investigators are advising families to take steps to prevent these burglaries:

  • Park unused vehicles in the driveway
  • Leave light on inside/outside the residence
  • Collect mail from mailboxes
  • Ask trusted neighbor to watch the home

If you know anything that could help detectives track down these thieves, you’re asked to call the Lawrence County TIP LINE at 812-277-2020.

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