Burglar swoops on Swiss funeral-goers’ homes

A 50-year-old man from Neuchatel has been arrested for a spate of burglaries committed while the victims attended the funerals of loved ones.


“He stole from me while I was crying for my husband,” 66-year-old Gilberte Guillaume told online newspaper Le Matin. She had been attending a late-night vigil at the time of the break-in.

“I cannot even find the words to express how indecent it is.”

Guillaume is one of 22 victims who were all burgled while attending funeral services. The offender is thought to have studied the death announcements printed in the press the day before each crime to identify the towns and names of his future victims.

The burglar has been particularly active in the cantons of Jura, Neuchatel, Fribourg, Bern and Vaud, stealing mainly money and jewellery before his arrest at the end of March. The police first tried to catch the man using surveillance, but were finally able to track him using evidence from his last burglary.

The man, known to the police for having committed similar crimes in the past, said that bad financial circumstances had driven him to burgle.

Although the man acted alone, it is clear to police from the pattern of burglaries that he was not responsible for all of those committed in the canton of Vaud while funerals were taking place.

“We continue to monitor the homes of friends and family during funeral ceremonies,” the cantonal police spokeswoman Donatella Del Vecchio told Le Matin. “But we cannot be everywhere.” 

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