Funerals & Thieves: Awareness and Prevention

Death is often a rallying cry for families and communities. People you’ve only ever spoken to in passing may present themselves at your door with food and offers of support in your time of need. Often, it is these moments that bring people closer together. Why? Because Death and Love are both universal. When a death occurs, the love others feel for you or the one that has passed is made manifest in their actions, words, and hearts.

The Darker Side of Death

The flip side of that card reveals those who would try to profit from grief. Greed is a powerful force and can lead people to do terrible things. Recently, there have been an increasing number of cases wherein a family leaves their home to attend the funeral of a loved one, only to discover when they arrive back home that their house has been robbed.

Thieves will read the paper, search for obituaries and then plan a robbery when they know the family will be away. Often they will target the elderly in hopes of finding unused medications. Many funeral homes have become aware of this trend and elect not to include addresses in Obituaries anymore. This is helpful, but in the internet age, information can still be found.

What You Can Do

You are not helpless. There are different steps you can take to combat this activity:

  1. Ask for House-Sitters – The best way to prevent this predatory behavior is to ensure that there will be someone at home. Find a neighbor or a friend that did not know the deceased who can stay at your home while you are away. 
  2. Remove Medications – Take away their reason for breaking in. You might even place a hand-written sign on all doors leading into the home stating that there are no medications there.
  3. Lock Up – As simple as this sounds, grief can make us forget even the most ingrained things. In several of the cases mentioned above, the owners never locked their front doors. Locking up as you leave is the easiest way to make it difficult for a thief to break in.

Here is a news report from WICU12 in Erie, PA that shows an example of this occurring and discusses the steps outlined above.

WICU12/WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Awareness is the first step in keeping your home secure. Knowing the problem exists allows you to plan ahead. Each of us should have a plan for when we die; it’s why funeral homes offer pre-planning services. Take advantage of this information and discuss the necessary steps to keep your family safe.

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