OAKLAND COUNTY (WXYZ) - Jim Ratliff's mother died in January, just several months after he lost his father.
During the difficult time of attending his mom’s funeral, someone ransacked his parent’s house in Clarkston.
“It felt really bad…we felt violated,” said Ratliff. “These are low, low people…they took advantage of a family that has their hands full already.”
Many of the stolen items had sentimental value to Ratliff.
“Cuff links…they weren’t gold cufflinks, they were just my dad’s,” said Ratliff.
Late this afternoon, Sheriff Mike Bouchard announced police have arrested Todd Griffin of Pontiac for the crimes. He was taken in to custody in another state.
Police have named him the “Funeral Bandit.”
It is believed he burglarized at least 16 homes in several counties including Oakland, Livingston, Genesee, and Shiawassee.
Police recovered about $50,000 in items such as jewelry and electronics from Griffin’s Pontiac home.
According to Sheriff Bouchard, much of the stolen property had little to no monetary value.
“He wasn’t just stealing their property, he was stealing their heart,” said Sheriff Bouchard. “In one of the burglaries [a] little piece of wood carved ‘mom’ in it.”
On Monday, Griffin was arrested in Colorado; it was the day he turned 44 years old.
“We actually recovered more valuables out there. This is poetic justice that he was arrested on his birthday.”
Ratliff’s sister Suzie Jones suspected Griffin found out their information from their mother’s obituary in a newspaper.
“It was in the newspaper that [my father] had passed away in November and that she died in January,” said Jones. “They were married 74 years. My brother thought that was important to put in the paper.”
Police will begin the extradition process to bring Griffin back to Michigan soon.
He will face at least 16 counts of Home Invasion and other charges. Investigators think there are additional cases but they are still investigating.
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