Johnson County home burglarized while homeowners attend funeral

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind.-- A homeowner in rural Johnson County wants to know who would break into his home and steal thousands of dollars worth of property while he and his wife were away mourning the death of a loved one.

The homeowner, who does not want to be publicly identified, says he and his wife were already at an emotional low point last Thursday after attending the funeral for his sister-in-law in Shelby County.

“My brother had just passed away, then my sister in law,” the homeowner said.  “And going through all that, and then coming home and finding this.”

“This” was a huge mess throughout the house on East County Road 375 South.  Muddy footprints tracked up to a back door, which was kicked in, and continued into the home.  Inside, drawers and cabinets had been left open with items thrown around in every room.

“Our thought was, at first, there must have been an earthquake,” he said.  “Something must have shook the house and that’s exactly what went through our minds.  All the books and everything were pulled off the shelves and you couldn’t even walk on the floor, they had just, I guess they thought money might be in those books or something.”

The person or persons had gotten away with thousands of dollars worth of property that included cash, a coin collection, jewelry and a 60-inch television.

And the timing seemed to be no coincidence.

Somebody apparently knew the homeowners would be away for the funeral; they suspect somebody saw his sister-in-law’s obituary and used it to target the home.

“They had used the article in the paper, with our names and the time of the funeral, and where it was going to be,” the victim said.

“This does seem like, to me, a case that more than likely somebody did know that those individuals was going to be gone that day,” said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.

Cox says it is possible somebody used the obituary to target the home, but he suspects it was somebody who knows the family and knew about the funeral.  Cases of burglars randomly scanning obituaries to look for targets are very rare, Cox said.

“I don’t see burglars sitting at the breakfast table reading the obituary page,” Cox said.  “I would hope that we never get to the point where we have to quit putting obituaries in the newspaper because burglars are casing these homes.”

Either way, the case appears to be that of someone taking advantage of a family while they were mourning the second family member to pass away in a month.

“And where people like this belong is in the department of corrections,” Cox said.

“How can they live with themselves," the homeowner asked.  “Just going in a house when people aren’t home and robbing it, that’s bad enough.  But when they do it while you’re at a funeral of your relation, to me that’s just double bad.”