2009-02-19 / Local & State

Condolence Cash Stolen From Undertaker

LOWER BURRELL, Pa. (AP) - A western Pennsylvania funeral director said he has begun locking the doors of his business for the first time in 50 years after approximately $800 was stolen from cards left during a funeral.

Funeral director Frank Gigler, of Lower Burrell, said the family of the deceased man, Thomas Bruno, 36, discovered that dozens of cards containing cash and checks were stolen during the one-day visitation Jan. 4.

"I never envisioned someone would ever come into the funeral home and steal something," Gigler said. "I've never lost a pencil."

Gigler gave the family less than a dozen cards left at his funeral home, about 25 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, but was told by the deceased man's father there had been at least 75 envelopes when the family left the night before.

"I can't dispute him. It's my neglect that I did not lock the doors," Gigler said.

Westmoreland County District Attorney John Peck said the case is serious not because of what was stolen, but because of where the theft occurred. Peck said the funeral director is not a suspect.

"It seems sacrilegious to steal from a family that's suffered such a loss," Peck said.

Thomas Bruno was killed Dec. 29 when a tree limb struck him in the face while he was cutting timber.

Bruno's father, Angelo Bruno, said he now has no way to keep track of who left sympathy cards or Mass cards for his son. The money in the cards would have gone to the family's church, he said.

"How could you be so unkind to a family that's grieving and put them in such a dilemma?" he asked. "It saddens me deeply that anyone wouldn't have more of a heart than to pull a trick like that."

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