Police say there has been an alarming rise in the number of so-called, “obit burglaries,” committed while a grieving family is away from home.

It’s painful enough, dealing with the loss of a loved one and its aftermath. But police say ghouls are preying on some families by watching obits to determine when someone is not home. Criminologist Nick Irons of the County College of Morris says a family cannot hide the fact that there has been a death. Irons says, “just like it is important for families to announce a wedding.” But he says these times are the times when those he refers to as the “evil-minded”, take advantage.

Irons says most crimes follow the “trident” of time, place and opportunity, and the obit burglaries are definitely crimes of opportunity.

“This scam if that’s what you want to call it has been around for years,” he explains.

Irons advised to possibly keep somebody at home during the funeral, a family member or trusted neighbor. And be careful about over-exposing your loss on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, for everyone to see.