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Burglary via obituary a growing problem in Utah

Burglary via obituary a growing problem in Utah


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Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — Monday night, KSL News reported on a family who was robbed during their daughter's funeral. We thought it was an outrageous crime, but it turns out this type of situation happens more often than you'd think.

Viewers responded through email and the ksl.com comment board, sharing their own sad stories. Each instance, we've found, is more disturbing than the last.

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David Baugh lost his father, John, in early October. After the funeral, the family went to check on Baugh's home in Box Elder County, which had been vacant.

"It was a couple days after the funeral that we noticed one of the TVs was missing," Baugh said.

Initially, they didn't think anything about it, assuming a family member had taken the TV. But, that wasn't the case.

When family members returned to the home a few days later, they were shocked to find it had been broken into and cleaned out — a burglar stole another television, jewelry and cash.

"I think in the obituary, when it says ‘preceded in death by his wife,' then they figure no one was home in the house," Baugh said.

Thoughts from ksl.com comment board users:
Following our story about a family who was robbed during their daughter's funeral, dozens of ksl.com users shared the following thoughts:

  • "I can't believe people would stoop this low but that's what these creeps do best: look for the vulnerable."
    -MerworthAngel, ksl.com user

  • "I am going to volunteer to guard neighbors' homes while they attend family funerals. We should all consider doing this to help protect our friends from becoming victims."
    -dominored, ksl.com user

  • "I have never heard of this going on before, so I am glad that KSL is reporting on this. I will definitely be more aware from now on."
    -Up_Tonight, ksl.com user

The scheme is simple enough: you open the newspaper or look online at the obituaries, and it's a roadmap for criminals as to where you'll be and when you'll be there — a funeral home for the visitation, a cemetery for the burial.

As cowardly as it may sound, the criminals also know where you and your deceased loved one won't be: at home.

Thankfully, there are people like Bill Quist. Through his church, he volunteers to watch people's homes during funeral services for this very reason.

"How would you feel if you came home from a funeral, or one of your children was in the hospital, and you came home and found the house torn up?" Quist said.

For Baugh, it's a lesson in humanity — one he won't soon forget.

"It's kinda saddening to think that there's people out there desperate enough that they would take advantage of people when they are in a time of loss," Baugh said.

While gathering information for this story, the singular piece of advice KSL News received from police and people who have experienced this type of crime is simply to have someone keep an eye on your home while you're attending services.

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Andrew Wittenberg

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