“Hmmm…Richard Wittmer, deceased, Fayetteville, Arkansas, survived by his wife, Sara Wittmer and their two sons, Josh and Justin. Visitation will be at six Friday at Miller and Stephens Funeral Home. Interminent will be at one Saturday at Lone Pine Cemetery.”
Hank Rogers sat at his kitchen table, sipping hot black coffee while he perused the obituaries, looking for his next score. Once he found an expensive death notice, complete with picture and a listing of the surviving family, he would rob the house while the bereaved was at the funeral. This line of work had kept him successful for three months. Who needed a nine-to-five job when grieving people left donations in their homes for him to find?
“Nice picture. His family spent some money on his obituary. He looks like he has a nice house with plenty of valuables. I’ll just drive out there this afternoon and scope out the place. I’ll get his address from the phone book and get a feel for the area.”
Hank didn’t have any trouble finding the house that afternoon. He loved it when everybody cooperated to provide him with information on the family of the deceased: the phone book company and the newspapers. He cruised by the two-story brick home, three-car garage, and the immaculate lawn. Being out in the country, there probably wouldn’t be a security system or any noisy neighbors or passing traffic, he noted with satisfaction.
“Yep, this will be a good score. Now to wait until everybody’s at the visitation tomorrow so I can get a closer look. Might have to borrow a bigger truck for this haul.”
Hank drove back to his house, preparing his bag with binoculars, night vision goggles and dark clothing. Now, it was just a matter of waiting until the time was right.
Friday evening brought Hank to his target’s house. He parked his beat up black pickup truck across the road in a grove of trees with a good view of the house, thanks to his binoculars. Hank sipped his coffee from a thermos while he waited for the family to leave. He glanced around at his cluttered vehicle.
“Maybe after this score, I can finally get that SUV I’ve had my eye on since I discovered this lucrative job. I just renewed my license, tags, and insurance, but after this haul, it won’t matter.” He smiled. “It’s comforting to know that people are dying to provide for my pleasure.”
Hank was soon rewarded with a darkened house. Tossing his empty thermos onto the cluttered floorboard, he rubbed his hands in anticipation. Within moments, three cars left the garage and passed in front of him, unaware of his existence.
“Must be family members coming for mutual support,” he reasoned. “Which means extra goods for the taking.”
After a couple of minutes, Hank started his engine and drove down the driveway with his headlights off. He parked his vehicle behind some bushes that blocked some of the view from the road, just in case of a passing car. Donning his night vision goggles, he exited and crept around the house.
The domain remained dark and quiet. No dogs barked. No security lights setting off. Hank peered into windows on the bottom floor. His goggles showed him the expensive interior of the deceased. Going from window to window, he gleaned the knowledge of the possessions and the layout of the house.
Hank finished his survey of his target and walked back to his vehicle.
“What a setup! I’ll definitely be in the money after I unload this haul. Trade in this sorry vehicle for a cleaner, newer one. Life is going to be sweet.”
The next afternoon Hank drove to the deceased house at twelve thirty and parked in the grove as before. The light falling rain and gray clouds gave him extra cover in the trees. Besides, he knew the mourners would be too distraught to notice a truck parked in the grove. He drank his coffee in silence, dreaming of a richer life.
Within moments, the same three cars drove by. Smiling, Hank crumpled his empty paper coffee cup, tossing it to the floor. He drove his truck up the driveway and again parked it next to the bushes. He was also pleased to have a huge oak tree offering shelter from the rain. He didn’t want Mother Nature ruining his electronic score.
Wearing jeans, sweatshirt and sneaks, Hank pulled out his locksmith kit. Breaking in was a piece of cake. Still no alarms went off or any barking dogs coming to attack. Working his way room to room, Hank found jewelry, money, credit cards, and plenty of TVs, cameras, camcorders, DVDs and CD players. After making several trips to the truck, he checked his watch.
“I should have another thirty minutes before the mourners return. Don’t want to push my luck.”
After the last load, Hank threw a tarp over the stolen items, tying it down. Satisfied, he drove straight to Glenn’s garage to trade these items in for some cold hard cash, which Hank was going to trade in for a newer vehicle.
That evening after a profitable exchange with Glenn, Hank sat in his living room, looking at the car dealership ads. After he bought a new vehicle, he would pick out another deceased victim and keep the ball rolling.
A pounding on the door interrupted his scheming.
“Open up! Police!”
The door burst open before Hank could stand up. Three policemen, guns trained on their target, barged into Hank’s living room. They easily slapped handcuffs on the speechless thief.
“H…h…how did you find me?” Hank finally managed to sputter.
“Well,” one officer replied, “You left us your calling card.” He held up Hank’s vehicle insurance card, which was splattered with a muddy shoe print. “Next time, leave this in your glove box and not on the floorboard where it can stick to your shoes and then fall off in the house you’re robbing.”
The officer grabbed Hank’s arm, leading him to the door.
“Let’s go. Mr. Wittmer’s family is dying to see you in jail.”