Police Search for Funeral Home Purse Snatchers

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SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio -- Callous thieves are sneaking into funeral homes during services and stealing from the families of the dearly departed while they are preoccupied with fellow mourners, Akron police said.

Akron Police Lt. Rick Edwards said the thieves have struck five times in the last several weeks. Each time they have gone into the place where the service was being held and stole from the mourners.

"You are taking advantage of people at their weakest moment. You know, when they are out in a funeral home trying to pay their respects to a loved one, friend, or family, and here is someone who creeps into the funeral home and steals their belongings," Edwards said.

Melissa Lisy is one of five people who have been targeted by funeral home thieves while they mourn the passing of a loved one.

"When you are down, I mean, you can't feel any worse than you do when losing your father or losing a loved one. It hurts," Lisy said.

She was at Anthony Funeral Home in Akron November 11th mourning at her father's visitation service when crooks snuck into the funeral home and stole her purse from a room.

"I was angry, I was violated,” Lisy said.

Surveillance photos show a man with a moustache and a grey goatee using her stolen car to buy gas and beer just minutes after her purse was stolen.

The funeral home thieves also filled up their gas tanks. One time they were in a small green car. Another time they were in a red SUV.

Akron police said the same thieves struck mourners during services at two funeral homes in Akron, a funeral home in Cuyahoga Falls, one in Fairlawn, and at a church in Copley during calling hours.

"There might be a couple hundred people come in during the evening and you just don't notice," said Funeral Director David Anthony.

He and police believe the thieves blend in with the mourners while they look for valuables to steal.

"It just seems to be below, the worst of the worst," Anthony said.

"I want so badly to have these people caught," Lisy said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Akron Police Department at (330) 375-2552.