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Grief Thieves Exist. Part 1. Protect the Home Front

07 March 2020
Grief Thieves Exist. Part 1. Protect the Home Front

Horrifying though it is, grief theft is a thing: there are criminals out there looking for homes to target when friends and family are memorializing a loved one who has passed. 

It not often reported, but there are stories of instances where families were targeted when they were attending wakes and funerals...consider the case in which a woman broke into the homes of individuals who were attending their spouse’s funeral, or this one  -  perhaps even more egregious  -  in which a sheriff’s deputy schemed to rob homes she knew would be empty during funerals. There are also cases in which thieves have targeted the homes of individuals who have recently passed.

You might ask how thieves would know exactly when their targets would be out of the house. Unfortunately, the answer to that is in plain sight...they scour obituaries for names of relatives and the times of funerals, wakes, or memorials. That information, coupled with a quick internet search (including social media, where metadata in photos can lurk and reveal locations) can give them everything they need, including addresses, to strike undetected...and make a painful life experience even worse. 

As with any crime, it’s hard to imagine that you will ever be a victim. But why take the chance? 

You might think that the best thing to do is forgo an obituary entirely, but obituaries are a time-honored tradition that memorializes the deceased and notifies communities and friends of the death. But forgoing the obituary isn’t the only option for home security. There are several strategies you can use to keep domestic valuables safe in this scenario. 

Here are a few: 

  • Ask friends or neighbors who are not attending the funeral to stay at your home and that of the deceased during the scheduled time. If none are available, you can hire a home or pet sitter (there are numerous reputable websites and apps that can connect you to one).
  • Keep the lights on and leave either music or TV playing loudly.
  • Leave a car in the driveway.
  • Invest in a security system (particularly for the home of the deceased if resolving their estate will take time). 

When you have lost a loved one, you’re often distracted by both grief and logistics. You are at your most vulnerable, which means you need to double down on protecting yourself. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the series, where we will explore identity theft and how to prevent it. 

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