Police have arrested two women in a series of break-ins at homes across half a dozen Southern Ontario communities that took place while their owners attended funerals and visitation services.
The women allegedly used social media in order to find family connections and pinpoint potential victims.
The women, a 26-year-old from Waterloo and a 45-year-old from Hamilton, netted around $100,000 worth of laptops, jewelry, electronics and cash as a result of the 12 break-ins. The 26-year-old was arrested in Waterloo, while the 45-year-old is currently in custody in Hamilton in relation to a break-in Port Dover in April.
"They would look through the obituaries, they would find names and a bit of personal information of family members through the obituaries. They would take to social media, research, go on different social media sites," said Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Shaena Morris.
"In those sites people had personal information posted that allowed them to know addresses, locations, times that they would be away."
Three of the victims were acquaintances of the 26-year-old woman, which Morris called "pretty cold."
Police said homes were broken into in Waterloo Region, Niagara Region, Halton Region, Woodstock, Brantford and other communities.
Waterloo Regional Police teamed up with five other police forces and conducted a lengthy investigation in order to make the arrests. The charges relate to break-ins that occurred between January and April.
Police are now warning the public to be careful about what they post online.
"We're appealing to the public to make sure that they're not releasing any private information through any social media site, because people can access that," said Morris. "Even in the obituaries, they may want to consider limiting the amount of personal information that they put in."
Both women are facing 11 counts of break and enter and commit, five counts of break and enter with intent, five counts of possession of stolen property under $5,000, and possession of break-in instruments and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
Investigators are looking to reunite owners with sentimental items stolen from their homes. Anyone seeking information is asked to call Waterloo Regional Police at 519-650-8500 ext. 6340.