Pair suspected in string of area funeral home burglaries
Suspects wanted in thefts in Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk and Stamford
DARIEN -- Police are investigating a string of thefts from funeral homes over the past month in lower Fairfield County.
The latest incident occurred Friday in Darien when a Dooney & Bourke wallet containing $30 to $50 in cash and a Social Security card were reported stolen from Edward Lawrence Funeral Home at 2119 Post Road.
Jed Lawrence, the owner of the funeral home, received a phone call from Thomas Cicalese, the owner of Hoyt Funeral Home on Main Street in New Canaan just before Friday's theft warning him of a woman who is reportedly stealing wallets and purses at funerals and wakes, police said. The woman is described as a white, 45 years old, about five-feet, five-inches tall and 150 pounds with blonde hair parted in the middle and red roots with a pasty complexion, police said.
About 30 minutes after the phone conversation, a 55-year-old Bridgeport woman, who attended a wake at Lawrence Funeral Home last Thursday, reported her wallet missing, according to police. Lawrence employees had seen a woman matching the description of the suspect at a wake between 3 and 7 p.m. on Thursday, according to police. She had been accompanied by a white male who was described as tall, clean-cut, with short black hair, wearing slacks and a dress shirt, police said. Employees told the police that the male suspect had repeatedly run to his car during the wake.
A wallet containing $500 in cash was stolen from a service at New Canaan's Hoyt Funeral Home on Sept. 21, according to New Canaan police.
"Nothing has developed since the incident, but maybe with the other towns, our detectives can get together and share the information," said Sgt. Carol Ogrinc, a spokeswoman for the New Canaan Police Department.
Similar incidents have occurred at other Fairfield County funeral homes in the past few weeks. A purse was stolen from an attendant at services held at Collins Funeral Home on East Avenue in Norwalk on Oct. 1.
A 63-year-old Greenwich woman reported having her purse stolen from a viewing room at Cognetta Funeral Home on Myrtle Avenue in Stamford between 6 and 8 p.m. on Oct. 6.
"Later that day, she called her cell phone that was in the purse and found that her purse had been found with the phone inside at the McDonalds on East Main Street," said Lt. Sean Cooney, a spokesman for the Stamford Police Department. "She was able to retrieve the purse, but a credit card and several hundred dollars in cash were missing."
The incident was an "unusual and kind of creepy way to steal money from people," Cooney said.
It's not something Lawrence has encountered in his 36 years working for the Darien family-owned funeral home.
"Nothing like this, that I know of, has happened before," Lawrence said.
"Certainly all the funeral homes in the area now have a description of the woman. When she was here, she was with a guy. So I think they'd be pretty foolish if they tried to do this again, because certainly everyone is on full lookout for the couple."
Police advise those attending funeral homes to keep purses locked in cars or with them at all times.
"You really need to hold onto your valuables, or maybe leave it in the car, lock it in the trunk," Ogrinc said. "Or just keep it with you, or have a relative or loved one watch it or hold it ... You have to take some measures to avoid someone taking it."