A Bronx woman, Latonia Shelecia Stewart, 26, was arraigned on Wednesday July 31 following a 22-count indictment by the Westchester County Grand Jury related to rash of residential burglaries where next of kin were at funerals. The burglaries took place from fall 2017 to spring 2018.
Stewart faces about two dozen charges including multiple felony Burglary and Larceny charges.
According to the DA’s office, Ms Stewart allegedly used online obituaries to target Westchester homes of people attending a spouse’s wake or funeral.
When the victims returned, they found their homes burglarized and reported jewelry and other personal property missing.
At some of the residences, the defendant broke windows and glass doors to enter, using a mallet hammer which was located under the seat of her vehicle when she was apprehended.
The charges stem from six incidents in Rye Brook, Cortlandt, Scarsdale, Irvington (Town of Greenburgh), Ossining and Tarrytown.
Stewart also faces charges for burglaries here in Greenwich and in Carmel, NY.
In an incident in Greenberg, according to the DA’s office, Ms. Stewart had her baby was in the car when police, who had been surveilling her, stopped her leaving the home of a deceased person. There was jewelry in plain view in the car and Stewart had an obituary on her cellphone.
After she was in custody, police later searched her car and Bronx residence where they found more stolen items and burglar’s tools.
Greenwich Police are assisting Westchester County with their investigation.
According to Greenwich Police Lt John Slusarz, there are open cases in Greenwich that Ms. Stewart may fit the profile for.
“We assisted Westchester County and they’re assisting us in our investigation,” Slusarz said. “She might fit the profile.”
“Around the region burglary detectives meet at least once a month and discuss trends to see if there are commonalities,” Slusarz continued. “In this case this woman has a very specific profile. …Sometimes we can solve multiple crimes in these jurisdictions.”
Slusarz advised residents who are headed to a funeral not to leave their homes empty.
“If no one is going to be home they should find somebody who can be at the house – a friend or family member, or even hire someone privately, especially if the house has valuables,” Slusarz said. “An ounce of prevention goes a long way.”
A charge is merely an accusation and that a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
Stewart is scheduled next to appear in court Aug. 13, 2019.