Undertaker’s warning over unguarded homes

Ian Milne.
Ian Milne.

A Portadown funeral director has advised all bereaved families to leave someone behind “to guard their home” during the burial of their loved ones.

The advice comes from Ian Milne, funeral director, after thugs recently raided the home of County Armagh woman Muriel Diffin (83) during the funeral of her husband of 52 years, Espie Diffin.

Mrs Diffin said that “burden and insult” had been added to her grief when her husband’s treasured wedding ring was among the items stolen from her home in Milford. A large amount of cash, other gold rings and a haul of other items were taken as the thieves ransacked the house. Mrs Diffin said the theft three days after her husband’s death had left her “heartbroken”.

The wedding ring had just been returned to her after Mr Diffin died in hospital - the couple had marked their 52nd wedding anniversary just two weeks ago. Mrs Diffin said the burglary was “an awful thing to happen on the day of a funeral”.

Ian Milne commented, “It’s the lowest level of theft anyone can imagine, and sadly it isn’t an isolated state of affairs. With the address of the deceased and the time of funeral recorded in death notices, these unspeakable people scan the newspapers.

“Our advice is for the family to inform the neighbours of the time of the funeral, to detail a member, or members, of the extended family or friends to guard the house and make their presence obvious in a number of ways – be in the garden or leave the blinds open so that they can be seen.

“It has become so bad that funeral directors offer a ‘guard’ service, either one of our staff or even employing a professional security service. It’s incredible that it has come to this.

“Families – especially the bereaved spouse – feel they personally have been defiled, and their home has been violated. All undertakers know how to deal with it, and will willingly give advice to the bereaved.”