‘Obit Bandit’ Allegedly Robbed Widows’ Homes While They Attended Husbands’ Funerals

Massachusetts police say they have put a stop to the alleged “obit bandit” who is accused of robbing the homes of grieving relatives while they attended funerals and wakes for loved ones.

On Friday, Barnstable police arrested Randy Brunelle, 35, of Plymouth, Mass., after he allegedly broke into the Cotuit home of a woman attending her mother’s wake, the department said in a statement posted to their Facebook page.

Brunelle faces multiple charges related to the alleged robberies of two Osterville homes last September and December of widows who were attending funerals for their late husbands, police said.

He is also suspected of “breaking into numerous homes” in the Plymouth and Mashpee area, police said in the Facebook post.

Brunelle served 18 months in the Plymouth House of Corrections after his conviction for breaking into the home formerly owned by a Sandwich police officer’s mother in 2012 — while the officer was attending her funeral, police said.

“Since his release, Brunelle is suspected of using the same modus operandi as he did in the 2012 Plymouth case, by preying on people who are attending the wakes and funerals of loved ones,” police wrote in the statement.

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For the last several months, Barnstable detectives were investigating the break-ins of homes of people who were attending the wake or funeral services of a loved one.

On Friday night, Barnstable police got word that Brunelle was on Cape Cod. When they spotted his gray Honda Civic in Cotuit, they followed it, “while other detectives fanned out to possible locations of relatives attending funeral services in the Barnstable area,” the post said.

When detectives discovered a break-in at a Cotuit home, officers pulled Brunelle over and found jewelry in his sweatshirt pockets, which led to his arrest.

After the homeowner returned from her mother’s wake, she identified the jewelry as being stolen from her residence, according to the Facebook post.

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Brunelle, out on $5,000 bail, declined Monday morning to comment to The Cape Cod Times as he walked into Barnstable District Court for his arraignment.

Brunelle entered a not guilty plea on all the charges, the court clerk’s office tells PEOPLE.

Brunelle’s attorney, Diane Mulligan, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

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