Thieves use grief as opportunity to steal

Updated:

SEATTLE -  

 Heartless thieves are reading obituaries and using a funeral as their cue to break into grieving victims’ homes.

 

A Ballard woman was a victim of burglars who saw the time and place of her mother’s funeral and saw an opportunity.

 

While the family was at a funeral service at Crown Hill Church 5 minutes from their home, burglars were stealing jewelry owned by the woman who had just died.

 

When Grace Hanson died last week at 97, she was wearing her cherished wedding band. While she was being laid to rest, that wedding band was stolen from her daughter's house.

 

That daughter, Gloria Madche, said the burglars who broke into her home took everything of value, including medication. Jewelry boxes were emptied and left behind.

 

“This is what all my mother’s jewelry was in, and they took it and they just dumped it out,” said Madche.  “They took my husband’s coin collection which he’d been collecting for years and years,”

 

Burglars even found her father's watch, which had been hidden.

 

“It was in this wooden Egyptian box,” said Madche.

 

Every drawer was emptied of heirlooms.

 

“Most of it was very personal and treasured things,” said Madche.

 

Madche quickly realized that the burglars broke in at the exact time she publicly posted her mother's funeral in the paper and online.

 

Police told her such burglaries have happened before when thieves planned several break-ins in the North Sound during funerals last year.

 

Madche's grief over losing her mother changed instantly.

 

“I was so angry!  I was so angry, that I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had seen them walk by,” said Madche.

 

Since the experience, Madche has advice for anyone planning a memorial.

 

“When they give you a guideline to use to write an obituary, please don’t put up your name or your memorial service date and time,” said Madche.

 

Some funeral homes suggest getting a house-sitter during funerals.

 

Madche said the best advice is to only share the time and place with people you're inviting.