AKRON, Ohio - Several Summit County police departments are on the hunt for a callous crook, who is snatching purses from grieving families at local funeral homes, and then using the stolen credit cards to buy cigarettes and beer.
It happened to Melissa Lisy, 47, who was already devastated over the sudden death of her father, Frank Mungo.
Lisy said her dad died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 72.
During calling hours on Nov. 11, Lisy left her purse inside an office at Anthony Funeral Home on South Main Street in Akron.
When the purse disappeared, Lisy assumed she misplaced it while dealing with her grief, but she later learned a stranger came into the funeral home, grabbed the purse and took off.
On Wednesday, police released several surveillance pictures of the suspect.
He was caught on camera, one hour after the theft, at a Circle K in Uniontown, using Lisy's credit card. Police said he charged between $600-$700 on cigarettes and beer at the Circle K and other stores.
"I'm really angry at the fact that someone would do this to me when I'm going through this process... I can't believe somebody would do this to another human being when they're grieving. You've kicked them while they're down," Lisy said.
David Anthony, president of Anthony Funeral Homes, is also furious.
"This is probably done by a guy that doesn't want to wait in line when he gets to hell," Anthony said.
Police believe the same man is responsible for thefts of purses at funeral homes in Cuyahoga Falls and Fairlawn, as well as a church in Copley. All of the thefts happened within the last month.
Surveillance video shows him using a stolen credit card at Circle K in Akron after a purse was taken from Ciriello-Carr Funeral Home in Fairlawn.
Investigators find the crimes despicable and believe the crook is probably working with someone else to pull off the purse thefts.
"We're asking for the public's help in helping identify who the suspect is that's going around preying on people at their most vulnerable moment," said Lt. Rick Edwards of the Akron Police Department.
Anymore with information on the crook is urged to call Summit County Crimestoppers at 330-434-COPS. You may remain anonymous and could be eligible for a reward of up to $2,000.