In the last week, Vermont State Police out of the New Haven barracks have responded to burglaries in nearly every town they cover.
"We've had special details in Cornwall to reduce the burglaries there. So now it's picked up in Ferrisburgh and so we're just trying to play catch-up," Vt. State Police Sgt. Eugene Duplissis said.
Monday, investigators were called to Pond Road in Monkton. But it was no ordinary burglary. The distraught residents told police in addition to jewelry, the burglars allegedly swiped a tiny pewter urn containing the ashes of their infant.
"It probably looked liked it was of value if it was a gold or silver color, if was something they may have thought they could get money for to pawn off," Duplissis said.
The couple didn't want to go on camera, but sent us this photo of the urn that's shaped like an upside down teardrop. They hope if the thieves tossed it, someone will return it.
"I don't believe I've ever had a case where somebody's ashes have been stolen," Duplissis said. "It's certainly not something that's targeted."
Typically it's jewelry. And that's exactly what police say the thieves stole from another Monkton home 24 hours after the urn theft. Investigators say it's likely the break-ins are connected, but there's no evidence to prove it. Police say these burglaries are fueled by drugs, specifically heroin and crack. Stealing jewelry is an easy way for addicts to pay for their next fix.
"It's fast cash. The price of gold, the price of silver has increased dramatically and anyone can easily sell them to a coin shop or an antique shop, whoever is buying gold," Duplissis said.
Police say there aren't any laws in Vermont that force these business owners to identify the people pawning the items. And some of the precious metal gets sold out of state.
"We've had thieves that have gone all the way over to Queensbury, N.Y., for example, to sell items there," Duplissis said. "There's just such a wide number that we track and not all store owners are cooperative."
Police say thieves may case a home before they steal from it. They'll come to the door and if you answer, they'll make up an excuse why they're there. Police say you should get their license plate number. Investigators admit recovering property is rare because even if they catch the crooks those items are usually long gone.
The stolen pewter urn is only about 4 inches tall with a screw-on cap. It has black stripes on it. The bag of ashes inside is smaller than a golf ball. Anyone with information is asked to call Vermont State Police at 802-388-4919. You can also submit tips anonymously online at www.vtips.info or by texting "CRIMES" (274637) to Keyword: VTIPS.
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