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Old 31 January 2007, 01:04 PM
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Hello Kitty Burglary during a funeral

Tomorrow I will be spending the day house-sitting. My good friend's husband died on Sunday afternoon, so I will be spending most of the day at her house so that someone's home during the funeral and reception.

This is because "everyone knows" that there have been "instances" of burglars checking the obits and then robbing homes when they are empty because everyone is at the funeral.

But does it actually happen?

(I'll be doing it anyway for other reasons -- someone should be there to answer the phone, give directions to the church, let the dogs in and out, etc. Plus, I'm always a mess at funerals, and I don't understand Greek (much of the service will be in Greek).)

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Old 31 January 2007, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Four Kitties View Post
(I'll be doing it anyway for other reasons -- someone should be there to answer the phone, give directions to the church, let the dogs in and out, etc. Plus, I'm always a mess at funerals, and I don't understand Greek (much of the service will be in Greek).)
I've heard of funeral burglaries too, as you have, but I have no idea if it really happens.

May I just hijack this thread for a moment though, to say what a beautiful gift this is? Most times we know of someone close to us losing someone we say, "I wish there were something I could do." You've found something. Looking after the dogs and being there to give directions takes two things off the mind of your friend, and allows her to focus on other things.

I'm going to try to remember your example as a thing to offer those going through something like this.
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Old 31 January 2007, 01:56 PM
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While its certainly possible for a burglar to scan the obits, find one nearby and rob the deceased place of residence, he probably wouldn't due to the sheer number of people that would be retuning later plus the thief would have no idea how long the funeral will last.

Most burglars scope out a place thats not well protected and establish a homeowners pattern so they can find the best time to strike. Doing it during a funeral is simply too freakish event that leaves little time for a burglar to plan a successful break-in and a very thin margin. Plus not all the neighbors are guaranteed to be gone either.

Thats not to day that they do sometimes happen, but its probably an uncommon event. Most criminals stick with what works.
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Old 31 January 2007, 02:14 PM
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I've done the same thing for friends. When a neighbor lost her husband, people kept calling during the wake hours to see if someone was there. They'd ask for "Sue" and then hang up. We assumed (possibly incorrectly) that they were trying to find out when the house would be empty.

As far as a short margin. If the funeral is in a Catholic or Orthodox church, you have a strong hour for the mass, most obits also list the cemetery, so it's easy enough to add on the travel time for that.
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Old 31 January 2007, 02:19 PM
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I think most burglars are opportunistic; see an empty house and try and steal something. Scanning the obits would seem awfully long-winded.
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Old 31 January 2007, 02:25 PM
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There was this robbery that was discussed on the board a few weeks ago. I don't know how common it really is, but it does happen.

It seems more likely the thief would stake out houses based on obits in hopes the home would be unoccupied for a few days, not just the few hours a funeral takes.

Last edited by Starla; 31 January 2007 at 02:26 PM. Reason: robbery was not actually during the funeral
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Old 31 January 2007, 02:26 PM
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During my grandmother's funeral two cars were broken into in the church parking lot. I don't know if the burglar(s) were there because they knew the funeral would be happening, or they were just walking by and saw an opportunity. But it happened.
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Old 31 January 2007, 02:28 PM
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I googled "burglary funeral" and on the second page I found this item about a ring of "funeral day" burglars in Missouri. Before that one there were two other mentions of burglaries during funerals. I stopped looking when I came to the linked item since that does indicate that some people do plan to use funerals as an opportunity to burglarize houses.

ETA: Regardless of the risk of burglary, it's a good thing you're doing for your friend, 4K, for all the reasons you have given. I know my good friend and neighbor was very grateful when I agreed to do that for her during her son's funeral.
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Old 31 January 2007, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Tzarina View Post
As far as a short margin. If the funeral is in a Catholic or Orthodox church, you have a strong hour for the mass, most obits also list the cemetery, so it's easy enough to add on the travel time for that.
I think that it's a pretty safe bet that if you see the obit of a man named Teodore, married to a woman named Stavroula, with daughters named Matina and Dorotea, the family is likely to be Greek Orthodox.

That, plus the name of the church is in the obit, and if anyone is familiar with the area they'll recognize it as Greek Orthodox. And if there's one thing about Greek Orthodox ceremonies, they take (IMO) forever! They do everything three times.... I'm Catholic, so I know from long ceremonies, and the Greeks take the cake AFAIC.

Googling "funeral + burglary" results in lots of anecdotal evidence:

story 1
story 2
story 3

ETA: spanked by wanderwoman on my second link

Quote:
Originally Posted by DadOf3 View Post
Most times we know of someone close to us losing someone we say, "I wish there were something I could do." You've found something. Looking after the dogs and being there to give directions takes two things off the mind of your friend, and allows her to focus on other things.

I'm going to try to remember your example as a thing to offer those going through something like this.
Something else to do, which my mother often does for her friends: host people who are coming from out of town. Some people have to travel long distances on very short notice to attend funerals -- they may not always have room in the budget for a hotel/motel room. Also, there may not be a hotel/motel nearby, or it may not have rooms available on short notice. I don't have any spare bedrooms, but Mother has given houseroom to several FOAFs in town for funerals (most recently this one).

Works for weddings, too.

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Old 31 January 2007, 03:48 PM
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I cook. When folks in our old neighborhood died, the neighbors would send cakes. Tons of freaking cakes. Cake is good, but when people are grieving, they tend to forget to eat real food.

I usually make 2 or 3 meals, big enough for leftovers and send them over. (Fettucini Alfredo with Chicken and PepperSteak with Rice are good ones)
I make sure to send them in containers I don't want back, with sides and heating instructions. If nothing else, I then know my friends have had a few good meals.
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  #11  
Old 31 January 2007, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Four Kitties View Post
And if there's one thing about Greek Orthodox ceremonies, they take (IMO) forever! They do everything three times.... I'm Catholic, so I know from long ceremonies, and the Greeks take the cake AFAIC.
The Greek Orthodox services I've been to (mainly weddings) make our "little" Catholic services seem almost Protestant in their brevity.
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Old 31 January 2007, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Tzarina View Post
I cook. When folks in our old neighborhood died, the neighbors would send cakes. Tons of freaking cakes. Cake is good, but when people are grieving, they tend to forget to eat real food.
I've already done this. First day I brough coffee and sugar and half-and-half -- seems like there's never enough, with people dropping by. Second day I brought enough meatballs and sauce to feed her and all the houseguests, so she wouldn't have to worry about cooking dinner on top of everything else. I also brought this, because it keeps well and there has to be something to serve with the coffee!

I also gave her a haircut, carried guest luggage to upstairs bedrooms, and walked the dog. Now that people have arrived, I'm trying to stay out of the way.

I think the most important thing I can do is be around after all the dust settles and everyone leaves, but I'd be doing that anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug4.7 View Post
The Greek Orthodox services I've been to (mainly weddings) make our "little" Catholic services seem almost Protestant in their brevity.
I went to a Protestant wedding once where people who were 20 minutes late arrived just in time to see the bride and groom getting into the limo to go to the reception. It ain't right, I tell ya!

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Old 31 January 2007, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Four Kitties View Post
I went to a Protestant wedding once where people who were 20 minutes late arrived just in time to see the bride and groom getting into the limo to go to the reception. It ain't right, I tell ya!
I've been to a number of weddings, but I swear, my first Protestant one was over before I had time to settle down. My then 6 year old daughter actually said, "Is that all?!?". She had been to the wedding of her CCD teacher at our church and so she "knew" what a wedding was like. When I went to my first Orthodox wedding, my remark afterwards was, "Now THAT'S a wedding...".
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Old 31 January 2007, 05:05 PM
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See, 4K, you and I would get along famously. Feed people, that's how it's done.

My wedding took all of 10 minutes. The Catholics in the family were scandalized, I tell you.
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Old 31 January 2007, 05:07 PM
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See, 4K, you and I would get along famously. Feed people, that's how it's done.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: sometimes food is love.
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Old 31 January 2007, 05:25 PM
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It did happen to a collegue of mine. Do not post funeral time in the obituary, and if possible, don't leave the house empty.

Even better, leave someone with a nasty temper and a shotgun in the house to give these vultures what they deserve.
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Old 31 January 2007, 05:34 PM
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I would like to say that we live in a small town here, and we always have someone stay at the house during the viewings and funeral. It is the nicest thing a person can do for someone that has had a death in the family.

When my Dad passed away neighbors and friends brought so much food and I thought "What are we going to do with it all?" Then you don't realize how many persons arrive from everywhere! We had so many out of town persons and friends from everywhere. It was in January also and the one thing I remember most is a huge pot of chicken soup, we were so cold from going in and out all the time and sick from nerves that hit the spot.

What food we had left we took to the church for the after the services luncheon and it worked out very nice. I guess what I am getting at is that every little thing you do at this time in a persons days after they loose a family member is very significant and will be greatly appreciated. We could never repay friends and family for all the things that they did in those days after my Dads death no matter how little the gift!
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Old 31 January 2007, 05:44 PM
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I guess what I am getting at is that every little thing you do at this time in a persons days after they loose a family member is very significant and will be greatly appreciated. We could never repay friends and family for all the things that they did in those days after my Dads death no matter how little the gift!
It's funny what sticks in your mind, isn't it? I remember very little about the days immediately after my father's death -- just snapshots, really -- but one of the things I do remember is that the neighbors brought over a gigantic Lobster Newburgh. Not my taste, really, but it and everything else edible disappeared pretty quickly, what with 80 or so people in and out of the house after the funeral.

Four Kitties
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  #19  
Old 31 January 2007, 05:56 PM
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I'm right on the edge of FOAFlore with this one, but my father knew some people at church who lost a wallet one time. A few days later, they got a phone call from a Sergeant Whoozis, from a city way across town. The wallet had been found, would they please come and pick it up? They left, got to the address, but it wasn't a police station, it was some kind of store. Returning home they found their house had been burglarized.

I can't swear it was true, except to say that my father is pretty sharp at spotting unlikely stories (and, for that matter, unlikely story-tellers). It does seem like a bit more preparation than your standard dash-and-grab, but if the original wallet-nicking was a crime of opportunity, maybe the thief decided to improvise.

Anyway, I mostly wanted to say good on you, Four Kitties. You're a true Good Neighbor and an all-round first-rate human being. Not, of course, that this is news to any of us...

Dog Friendly
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  #20  
Old 31 January 2007, 07:24 PM
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I mostly wanted to say good on you, Four Kitties.
:o

Pfft! This is what we do for our friends and family, for the people we love. I'm not doing anything special or unusual, I'm just doing what needs to be done.
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