Police: Crime ring scoured obituaries, broke into cars at funerals
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Three people are being charged as part of a crime ring that used obituaries to target funeral home parking lots in multiple counties.
At a joint news conference Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement from Monroe, Livingston and Ontario Counties announced the arrest of three suspects in the investigation.
Bruce Newton, 39, Cearra Campbell, 20, and Chelsea O’Hare, 23 - all of Rochester - were charged with eight counts of grand larceny 4th and three counts of criminal mischief 3rd.
According to police, this investigation developed over the course of three months. Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero, Livingston County Sheriff Thomas Dougherty, Greece Police Chief Patrick Phelan and Webster Police Chief Joseph Rieger all coordinated their investigations to make the arrests.
Over the course of three months, several vehicle break-ins were reported in parking lots at local parks and funeral homes in Monroe, Livingston and Ontario Counties. Newton, Campbell and O'Hare were known to visit certain stores to use credit cards they had stolen, investigators said.
“Some crime in particular is despicable”, said Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn. “To target individuals at a vulnerable time in their life while attending a funeral is just plain reprehensible.”
On September 2, deputies were called by a funeral home in Livonia about multiple vehicles with smashed windows. Items inside the cars, including electronics, credit cards and other valuables, were stolen while visitors were inside for the service.
Deputies were able to obtain a vehicle description off the funeral home surveillance system.
Two weeks later, officers and deputies came together on September 16 to follow one suspect’s vehicle across Monroe County, into Livingston County and eventually back into Monroe County. Deputies developed information that the suspects had broken into vehicles in the parking lot of a funeral home in Nunda.
Afterward, investigators found two purses that were left in the road in Nunda and Mt. Morris. They then waited at the Best Buy in Henrietta for the suspects to arrive. Once the three suspects went inside and purchased $750 worth of stereo equipment using stolen credit cards, investigators moved in and arrested them.
Newton, Campbell and O'Hare were all arraigned in Nunda Town Court. O’Hare set bail at $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond; Campbell and Newton were held without bail due to past felony convictions.
More charges and arrests are pending in this case related to the incident at the funeral home in Livonia, a sporting event in Lima and a sporting event in Dansville.