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Thief steals purse at cemetery, then goes to woman's house to steal car

Published: Thursday, Jan. 30 2014 12:45 a.m. MST

Laurie Bartunek of West Jordan was visiting her son's gravesite at the Redwood Memorial Mortuary and Cemetery Sunday when her purse was stolen. Then she found out the burglar used her personal information to find her house and steal her blue 2010 Hyundai Elantra with Utah license plate B65 1NA.

Steve Landeen, Deseret News

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WEST JORDAN — Laurie Bartunek had just finished visiting her son's gravesite and was walking back to her other son's vehicle, when the unimaginable happened.

"When we came back to the truck, my door was open," she said.

Her purse was gone.

She immediately canceled her credit cards. But the nightmare didn't end there. When Bartunek got back to her house, her car was gone.

"My stomach just dropped," she said.

The burglar had used the identification in her stolen purse to find her house and then used her keys to steal her blue 2010 Hyundai Elantra with Utah license plate B651NA.

"I can't imagine anything lower. We're still trying to get our lives stable from losing my son, so it was just rock bottom," she said. "To me it's just devastating, violating. … Everything has been turned upside down all over again."

The incident happened Sunday at Redwood Memorial Mortuary and Cemetery, 6500 S. Redwood Road. Bartunek thought she and her son were the only ones around.

"It's just like somebody is there watching for people to get out of their vehicles, but they're hidden," she said.

Unfortunately, it's a scenario that isn't unique to that cemetery or to West Jordan.

"It happens all the time," said West Jordan Police Sgt. Dan Roberts.

Whether it's people attending funerals, movies, church on Sunday or just going to the grocery store, criminals often watch for people stepping away from their vehicles, look for purses or identification left inside, and then use that information to steal more items knowing that the homeowner will be away for awhile, he said.

The solution is to not leave any personal information in a vehicle, Roberts said. He also advised that people should have the numbers of their banks and credit card companies already saved on their cellphones so they can cancel them the moment a theft is discovered. The person who stole the credit card will likely try to buy something quickly.

"They'll use it right away — immediately," he said.

Bartunek said she has since changed all the locks on her house.

As of Wednesday, investigators had no leads on possible suspects. Anyone with information can call police at 801-840-4000.

Contributing: Andrew Adams

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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