‘Obit Bandit' Sentenced to Decade Behind Bars for Robbing Grieving NY Families

She did it at least a half-dozen times, prosecutors said

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What to Know

  • An obituary-reading burglar who targeted the homes of grieving families while they attended funerals in New York has been sentenced to more than a decade in prison
  • A jury had found Latonia Stewart, 30, of the Bronx, guilty of targeting homes in Westchester County between 2017 and 2018
  • Stewart used obituaries that listed the deceased's next-of-kin and the funeral arrangements to know when the homes would be empty

The so-called "obit bandit" learned her fate in court Monday, sentenced by a judge for robbing New York families while they were away at funerals.

Latonia Stewart, of the Bronx, was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for targeting half a dozen grieving families. A jury had found the 30-year-old guilty on six counts of burglary and criminal possession of stolen property.

Stewart, 30, was arrested back in 2018 for allegedly scanning obituaries to find out when grieving families would be attending funerals and robbing their homes while they were gone.

At her sentencing, prosecutors read statements from a number of Stewart's victims.

"She didn't take material things, she took memories," Michaelle Calvi, a Westchester prosecutor, read aloud.

Stewart struck homes in Cortlandt, Greenburgh, Ossining, Rye Brook, Scarsdale and Tarrytown between December 2017 and May 2018. Police had noticed a pattern of robberies targeting people who were listed in recently published obituaries as next of kin. All of the obits included detailed funeral information. 

"She took most of the gifts that my husband had given me throughout our marriage, every birthday, anniversary, Valentine's Day," Calvi read.

A burglar kept an eye on obituaries to know when grieving families would be attending funerals, then robbed their homes while they were gone, police said Saturday. Erica Byfield reports.

Stewart's charges could have come with a sentencing of up to 90 years, but her attorney asked the judge for leniency because she has two children who "for better or worse" are going to need their mom.

The judge, who said Stewart has never shown any remorse, ultimately handed down a sentence of up to 11 years in prison. calling her actions "Cruel and heartless." Stewart remained stone-faced throughout much of the sentencing, and didn't have much of a reaction after the sentence was doled out.

Police in Greenburgh caught up to Stewart while she drove away from a home on May 1, 2018. Police said she had jewelry from a deceased person and an obituary website on her cellphone.

Officers recovered additional stolen goods in her car and Bronx home, as well as a sledge hammer she used to gain access to the homes by breaking windows and glass doors. Prosecutors said that she robbed six families, taking anything of value including "wedding bands, engagement rings, family heirlooms that would have been passed along" — and even taking things that have little monetary value, like love poems.

Stewart will be back in court again in the near future, this time in Connecticut where she's accused of targeting two other Greenwich families in the same manner.

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