El Cajon police say thieves scoured obituaries to target grieving families


Losing a loved one can be one of the most painful experiences in life. El Cajon police say three thieves added to that pain by burglarizing the homes of grieving loved ones while they were at funerals.

Kim Correia was grieving the death of her mother when she got hit with a second blow.

“We went to the service and when we came home we first noticed that my son’s backpack was missing. Then he checked his credit card and found out people had been using his card,” said Correia.

Police say within minutes the thieves put that credit card to use. In surveillance footage, Correia says one of the thieves is seen wearing her Coach purse.

She estimates the thieves took about $30,000 worth of belongings, including a 15-carat ring that belonged to her daughter who was visiting from New York to attend her grandmother’s memorial service.

“They took silverware, a laptop, iPads, a lot of jewelry,” said Correia.

El Cajon police say Herbert Cruz, Jennifer Martinez and David Valenzuela hit at least 12 homes in San Diego, El Cajon and the county since January. Investigators estimate the trio stole about $100,000 worth of stuff.

“They’re jerks to be hitting people when they know they’re at a memorial,” said Correia.

Police say the group would scour the obituaries, target a family and find out when they would be at the funeral.
Then, they would look for addresses, in some cases where the deceased person lived, and then burglarize their homes.

All three were arrested.

“I’m relieved that they caught somebody, that they caught them and didn’t get away with it,” said Correia.

None of the stolen property has been recovered. All three suspects are being held on bail.


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