Obituary burglary suspects may be dumping loot

MARYSVILLE — The suspects in a string of burglaries that occurred while grieving Snohomish County families were at funerals appear to be dumping and selling some of their loot as they head south, police said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, detectives recovered “a significant quantity” of high-value property stolen in the recent obituary-related burglaries, Marysville police Lt. Darin Rasmussen said.

The property, including jewelry and watches, was found behind a day care center in Vancouver, Wash.

Employees of the day care reported the find to the Vancouver Police Department.

Most of the goods were from a burglary at the south Marysville home of John and Danutsia Burgy. Their home was hit March 23 while they attended the funeral of John Burgy’s mother.

Marysville detectives also recovered stolen property on Sunday from a gold-buying shop in Lynnwood and another in Portland, Ore. In Oregon, they recovered about $17,000 in loot, Rasmussen said.

That property is being held by the business at the request of the police.

Court papers show the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is investigating seven burglaries that occurred while families were attending funerals. Police believe the thieves found their targets by scouring obituaries to identify empty homes. Marysville has a lone case in the apparent string, the one involving the Burgys.

On Wednesday, Marysville and Snohomish County Sheriff’s detectives met with the Burgys to show them the property recovered from Vancouver.

John Burgy said it’s clear to him that the burglars were able to break into the two heavy safes they carted off.

He also said it was nice to get some of the property back.

However, the burglars seemed to know how to sort the most valuable jewelry items, which have not been recovered, he said. Likewise, none of the dozen firearms stolen in the break-in have been found.

In many cases, stones were torn off jewelry so the gold could be sold to the buyer in Portland.

That has been hard on his wife, John Burgy said.

“To her, it wasn’t the dollar value,” he said. “It was the memories linked to each piece. There was just a beauty to each one.”

The couple was glad to recover a document showing that her father was a prisoner held in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II. They still hope to get back a piece of the uniform he wore in the camp that included his prisoner number.

“It has been an emotional roller coaster,” John Burgy said. “I keep trying to tell (Danutsia) an eighth of a cookie is better than no cookie at all. A couple, two, three days ago we had nothing. I’m seeing a real human side of a lot of these people from these police departments.”

Police continue to seek Tyler Austin Chase, 31, and Corey James Arendt, 20, the men suspected in the obituary burglaries. They are considered armed and dangerous.

Chase and Arendt still are believed to be using a rental car, Rasmussen said. The car is a 2011 Chevrolet Impala, painted black with Oregon license plate 376ETA.

Anyone spotting the vehicle should not attempt to approach it, police said. Instead, they should immediately call 911.

Anyone with information about these cases should contact Marysville detective Darryn Wiersma or Sgt. Doug Lee at 360-363-8300.

Eric Stevick: stevick@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3446.

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