Burglars Who Scout Out Targets from Obituary Notices.
People who prey on the innocent with scams and robberies are despicable. But there are no words to describe the actions of people who prey on others during a time of loss.
Some thieves are willing to stoop to the lowest levels to get what they want.
Stealing From the Dead or Grieving.
Thieves check the newspapers for obituaries. They find one — the moving story of a recently deceased mother, for example, complete with the date, time, and location of her funeral. They make a note of this information, then they rob the home of the deceased or even the homes of mourners as they attend the ceremony.
By reading the obituary section, thieves can discover detailed information about when their targets are not going to be at home and for how long. Then while people are attending the funeral, the thieves have the time they need to break into the homes and steal valuables.
They know they won’t be interrupted by anyone coming home early and surprising them, and they also don’t have to worry about breaking into an occupied home at night.
How can you prevent this from happening to you?
If you are writing the obituary, you can decrease the risk by leaving out certain information.
For the deceased, don’t include middle name, birthday, birth place, mother’s maiden name and home address.
If you mention other people, mention their relationship and first names, such as “she is survived by her sister, Sue.” Or you can even just mention the relationship and no names at all like: “she is survived by her sister.”
Make sure the windows and doors are locked. Set an alarm if you have one. Ask a friend or neighbor to watch the unattended homes. If no one can stay at home, make it look like someone is there. You might leave the TV or a light on and park a car in the driveway.
“Open House” Explorers.
Some people have an open house as a way to hold a memorial instead of a funeral. This still opens people up to thieves because, often there are many unknown (to you) people wandering around the home, mingling with each other. Not everyone knows each other, so a sneaky thief could slip in, pretending to be a friend or relative.
The thief may pocket something right there during the memorial or take inventory of any valuables for a visit later on. A good way to deal with this is to put anything of value away if possible. For example, don’t leave an expensive musical instrument out for display. Or better yet, block off some rooms to contain the visitors to smaller sections of the house.
It happened to me, what next?
If you’ve been robbed while attending a funeral, you need to call the police and file a report immediately. Another important step to take is calling your insurance company.
Other Targets: Vacationers and the Newly Wed
Unfortunately, it’s not just the recently passed away and their family who are targets. People who have publicly announced vacation dates and plans are also burglarized using this same strategy. If you are sharing upcoming vacation plans with friends online, be vague about the dates or better yet, just surprise everyone with the pictures once you come home!
Another popular target is the newly married. This is when it’s very hard to keep the time you will be out of town a secret. The wedding date is posted everywhere and shared multiple times, and since most people take their honeymoon right after the wedding, the thieves know when to hit. This is a case where a house-sitter might be the best answer – just someone to keep their eyes on the place.
Stay Informed and Stay Safe
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This information is provided for general consumer educational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice.