Purses, other belongings are stolen from mourners during funerals and burials

Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell
Carmen Gonzalez Caldwell

Last week’s column about funerals and churches generated lots of emails from readers who reminded me about a previous article I’d written, one about women who leave their purses in the car when at the church and cemetery.

So I stopped by my local funeral home just to look around and sure enough while I was there I noticed so many women who walked in without their purses. As curious as I am, I asked a few where their purses were. Their answers: in the car.

I reminded them that thieves like to hang out at funeral homes.

Later, I stopped by a cemetery. I noticed many of the women there had left their purses in their cars. I advised a few of them that they should take their purses with them. Their reply: “Oh, no one is going to take it. This is a cemetery.”

While everyone is occupied, thieves steal. In most cases people don’t lock their cars, so purses are an easy grab.

Readers have told me about women who’ve had their purses stolen while visiting a loved one’s grave.

Folks, these thieves have no moral standards and look for easy targets, they roam funeral homes, cemeteries and churches knowing you are trusting of these locations.

A few of the letters I received:

▪ I know you have written about this before, but please remind your readers that funerals are advertised, therefore criminals know if someone is going to be home or not while attending the services. Our house got broken into while we were at a funeral. Please make sure someone is at home — don’t leave the house empty.

▪ I visited my Mom’s grave site only to suffer the loss of my computer, purse and a jacket. I read your column on this issue last year but of course it didn’t stick because I left all those things in my car. I was close to the grave site and figured it would be OK. I will tell you that it will not happen again, lesson learned the hard way. Thank you for all your information in keeping us safe even though there are dummies like me who don’t listen.

▪ Please advise your readers again about funeral homes. I attended a very large funeral and my wife left her purse and my mother-in-law’s purse in the car. The funeral was quite lengthy and crowded. I asked my wife where was her purse and she told me in the car. I immediately rushed out the church to get it and it was already gone and her side of the car was opened, so they didn’t even have to break anything. I was furious when I went back into the church. ... She asked if my mother’s purse was gone too, and it was. We called the police during the service and we learned that there were eight cars broken in. … Please although these are religious events, don’t leave anything in the car. Thank you for listening and please share with your readers again.

Carmen Caldwell is executive director of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade. Send feedback and news for this column to, or call her at 305-470-1670.