A woman from the Bronx was charged Wednesday for allegedly burglarizing the homes of families attending the funerals of their deceased relatives.
Latonia Stewart, 27, was indicted on 22 counts of robbery and motor vehicle violations in New York and Connecticut. Reports said she allegedly searched newspaper obituaries to find homes to target.
Stewart was arraigned in court this week regarding several additional charges involving six different break-ins reported in Westchester between the fall 2017 and spring 2018, the New York Post reported Thursday.
She allegedly stole jewelry and other personal items while families attended the funerals and wakes of their loved ones.
In some of the cases, prosecutors said she broke into the homes using a mallet hammer she kept underneath the seat of her vehicle.
In May of last year, police arrested Stewart when they caught her allegedly trying to break into the home of a deceased resident while her baby was in the back seat of her car. Police said they found the obituary of the deceased on Stewart’s cell phone.
In 2018, AARP reported that, “Police noticed a distinct pattern of burglaries in various residential areas that played out over the last several months. Those targeted were all recently named as next of kin in obituaries. And the obits also revealed detailed funeral arrangements.”
The report said police in the area warned residents not to leave their homes vacant while they attended a funeral, and to omit their address when writing an obituary.
John J. Slusarz of the Greenwich Police said criminals do their research and warned residents to be aware of the fact.
“Criminals read the newspaper, too, to get whatever intelligence they can gather. Someone passes away, the funeral time is listed, it can be assumed the house is vacant,” he said.
According to reports, Stewart is due back in court on August 13. It is unclear if she has an attorney to speak for her.