Six times since January, grieving spouses and offspring have returned from funerals to homes in Marysville, Snohomish and north Snohomish County to find that someone broke in and plundered their property.
"It's pretty pathetic," Snohomish County Sheriff's Office Chief Kevin Prentiss said.
Detectives from Marysville, Snohomish and the sheriff's office are working together to investigate the string of burglaries, Prentiss said. Four of the break-ins were in city limits and two were outside municipal boundaries.
John and Danutsia Burgy of Marysville were the most recent victims.
On March 23, they were gone for several hours, attending the funeral for his 90-year-old mother at the Marysville Cemetery.
They came home to discover their two safes weighing hundreds of pounds each had been stolen. More than 100 pieces of jewelry and a dozen firearms were gone. Their property losses exceeded $400,000 in value. However, they consider other items, including a scrap of the uniform Danutsia's father wore in a Nazi concentration camp in World War II, to be irreplaceable.
"They are the worst of the worst as far as I'm concerned," John Burgy said. "They are like carrion, vultures living off the bones of the dead."
The Marysville couple said they feel bad for others whose homes were hit while they were mourning the deaths of loved ones.
"Their grief is every bit as bad as my grief," John Burgy said.
Gary and Jan Baxter had their home east of Arlington ransacked March 2 while they attended his father's funeral.
His father was Ken Baxter, the longtime Marysville City Councilman and namesake for the city's senior center.
The Baxters knew the Burgys and attended Barbara Burgy's funeral.
When they read about the funeral arrangements in the newspaper, Jan Baxter briefly considered calling the Burgys to encourage them to find someone to watch over their home while they were gone.
"I wish we had," Gary Baxter said.
The Baxters learned about their break-in from their son, who stopped by their home after the funeral and reception.
"He said, 'Where's the TV?' She looked at me and I looked at her and we said, 'No way.' "
Among other things, the thieves took cameras and electronic equipment. They even stole an old saxophone Jan Baxter's grandfather owned as a teenager when he was a young man with big dreams in the Big Band era. It was a great sentimental loss.
Gary Baxter had packed for a business trip. He was leaving for Africa the next morning. The burglars stole his passport, visa, new laptop and $2,000 in cash he'd packed for the trip.
He had to cancel.
Thieves are ever opportunistic, Prentiss said.
Prentiss said people might want to consider asking their neighbors to watch their homes if they are attending the funeral service of a loved one.
"You just have to work with your neighbors, to work as a team," he said.
Prentiss also cautioned people against posting photos on social media sites while they are vacation. Burglars monitor that, too.
Danutsia Burgy said the loss of so many family treasures has made her eager to warn others about finding a trusted friend or neighbor to watch their homes while they attend a funeral.
"No one deserves this kind of pain," she said. "Police are inundated. We all need to watch out for each other."
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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