Livonia grandmother's valuables stolen during funeral for husband

(WXYZ) - After 58 years of marriage, Thelma Ruckhaber was mourning the loss of her husband Charles. She never imagined that while she was attending his funeral, at that very moment at her home, someone was stealing her memories.

Thelma Ruckhaber recalls meeting her husband. "He picked me up in Saugatuck, you know Saugatuck. We were both there for the 4th of July weekend," she says.

That weekend led to 58 years together. After more than half a century together she can still say "He was a wonderful man, anyone you would talk to would tell you that."

She clings tightly to the memories since she buried her husband last week. He had lost a 2 year battle with cancer. "The funeral was on Friday last week, the 14th, Valentine's Day," she says.

If that day wasn't heartbreaking enough, what Thelma found back at home sent her reeling. She says "The next morning when I went to get dressed, I opened the drawer and said boy look at the mess this jewelry drawer is in. Did I leave it like that? Underneath that I had some cash. That was my first thing. 'Oh my God there is no money there.'"

As she searched the house, it only got worse. Thelma recalls "All the rings, Chuck gave me. I like gold crosses he had given me a number of gold crosses which were all gone. I had a number of gold chains, rings, I had a sapphire and a diamond, my mother's diamond is gone."

Thelma had been robbed during the funeral for her husband. The house was an empty, sitting target. She called her son Jeremy. He could tell instantly the thief knew what he was doing. Jeremy says "They went inside this drawer, inside here. Got other things like cash and more jewelry."

Jeremy and Thelma have no idea who would do such a thing. They fear the obituary for Charles from the paper may have tipped of a jewelry bandit. "It's heartbreaking. It's still hard not to get emotional. It's my dad. It's my mom. On top of having to go through this it just kills me" says Jeremy.

Thelma is still hopeful her precious memories can be returned. Meantime, she wants her nightmare to serve as a lesson to others saying

"I guess one of the main things why I'm doing this is so other people will be warned. I've told all my friends when the funeral time comes, for anybody. You have somebody in your house when you go. You hire somebody if you have to or you ask a friend to do it instead of going to the funeral. Because they wouldn't have come in if somebody would have been here."

Livonia Police continue to investigate and search for clues. They're also mindful of similar instances in recent weeks. 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments