'Obituary burglars' target bereaved families during funerals

'Obituary burglars' target bereaved families during funerals
Family photo shows "obituary burglary" victims John and Danutsia Burgy. She is seen wearing a necklace stolen during the burglary.
MARYSVILLE, Wash. - They're being called the "obituary burglaries" - a string of more than a half-dozen thefts in Snohomish County that seem to take place while families are away at a funeral, mourning the loss of a loved one.

One Marysville couple who was victimized in the string of thefts doesn't know exactly what to do next after they were targeted on one of the saddest days of their lives.

The Burgys lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in jewelry and family heirlooms while attending a funeral for his mother. To them, it was a very personal attack.

"You get this emotional feeling like, 'God, I would like to do something,' but I can't," says robbery victim John Burgy.

But there is a glimmer of hope, as Marysville police say they have identified two men who may be linked to the crime spree. Officers raided a home Friday where the two suspects lived until recently and found some valuables stolen during the string of burglaries.

The two suspects, 31-year-old Tyler Austin Chase and 20-year-old Corey James Arendt, remain at large and were last seen in a 2011 Chevrolet Impala with Oregon license plate 376-ETA.

It is believed that they have a number of guns that were stolen in the burglaries, and they are considered armed and dangerous, said Marysville Police Lt. Darin Rasmussen.

 Tyler Austin Chase (left) and Corey James Arendt (Photos courtesy of Marysville Police)

It's not yet known yet whether any of the recovered valuables found in the raid are from the home of Burgy and his wife, Danutsia.

Burgy says the items taken from their home have a value of nearly a half a million dollars.

"They cleared us out," says Burgy. "I mean, they took anything of any value at all."

The Burgys and Marysville police think the thieves scoured the obituary pages to find targets, knowing that families wouldn't be home if they were away at a funeral.

John Burgy was burying his mother just days after his birthday. Already in mourning, he became a victim of greed at the hands of the burglars.

"In their world, we're all a bunch of dang suckers," says Burgy. "And they probably look at us as just marks."

"It was my financial security," adds Danutsia Burgy.

Stolen items included jewelry, crosses, angels, charms and pendants that they had collected over decades. But the valuables simply became too expensive to insure year after year. Now the Burgys don't know if they'll get any insurance money.

Then there were the stolen papers - proof of a family lineage from the darkest days of World War II. Danutsia said her father and mother were survivors of the death camps. Her mother was in the labor camps and her father was in two concentration camps.

The Burgys searched pawn shops and jewelry stores for leads, to see if the crooks tried to turn a profit. Nothing has shown up yet.

Meanwhile, the search continues for Chase and Arendt.

Rasmussen said that Marysville police and Snohomish County deputies served a search warrant on a home on the 14800 block of 70th Place NE, between Lake Stevens and Granite Falls, on Friday, where they found some valuables stolen in the string of burglaries.

The two suspects in the case were not home when the warrant was served, and it is believed that they left the house on Thursday.

Anyone who sees the car or the men is asked to call 911.