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Burglary suspect targets funeral goers

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Posted at 4:31 PM, Aug 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-18 18:31:25-04

SANDY, Utah – Burglars targeted a funeral in Sandy Saturday, and police said it’s not uncommon for criminals to target funeral mourners.

Lex Madsen was attending a funeral when someone broke into his car Saturday and stole his wife’s purse—along with everything in it.

“They just cracked a little hole right here,” he said. “Her iPhone 5 was in it. Her driver’s license, and checkbook and social security card.”

The theft occurred at a church owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Old Mission Road in Sandy, where Madsen and his family were attending the funeral of a friend.

“As we came out, the window was busted, and my wife's purse was gone,” he said.

Madsen said he called the bank immediately, but he said his wife’s credit card had already been used at a nearby Wal-Mart on Fort Union Boulevard. The charges amounted to more than $400.

Store managers told Madsen the woman who used his wife’s card was dressed in black, as if she had attended a funeral. Madsen said he thinks the woman probably had been at the service.

“We suspect that this person saw there was an obituary, and went there and waited for people to go into the service, so they knew that we would be busy,” he said.

Sgt. Jon Arnold of the Sandy City Police Department said burglars often look for such opportunities.

“They want to do something quick, they want to do it fast," he said. "They're looking for things that are open and easily accessible to them.”

Arnold said burglars target funerals and church services because there are a lot of cars around but few people. Arnold said people can protect their belongings by stowing them out of sight, even at places like funerals.

“A criminal doesn't care,” Arnold said. “The criminal is there to get something, and they're going to take advantage of you any way they know, any way they can.”

Madsen said the crime was extra hurtful, considering what they were already going through.

“We’re grieving, and they just stepped on us while we’re doing that,” he said.