BARTOW, Fla. — The ashes of a retired Lakeland Police Officer were stolen from his widow's home on Wednesday by a burglar who has reportedly been terrorizing a Bartow neighborhood.
A surveillance camera caught what investigators believe is a man in a white van who was targeting multiple different homes along Riverlake Boulevard in Bartow.
Michele Newsome, an officer, who worked on the force for years, came home to a broken door, dresser drawers pulled out and valuables missing.
Newsome says she knows the burglars saw her home as an easy target because no one was home this day.
“On this particular day everybody was at work or had appointments and so there were no cars,” Newsome said.
Usually, this is not the case, she says, someone is almost always home.
Newsome didn’t notice right away, but when she saw glass on the floor and her dresser drawers dismantled, she knew something wasn’t right.
“I’m starting to pay more attention because I have all this glass and this wind is blowing in my door,” she said.
Newsome’s law enforcement background began to kick in, and she knew the perpetrator could possibly still be inside, so she left the house and called 911.
After hours of questions and crime scene tape, she was able to assess the damage.
Not only would she have to replace a large glass door, about $500, she lost important jewelry and something else that can never be replaced.
“This is physically... this is my late husband... this is a human being this was this was very personal and that I cannot replace,” Newsome said.
Her late husband Buddy, also a retired Lakeland Police officer, rested in peace on her nightstand.
But his urn is missing. Michele believes the burglars thought it was something valuable.
The small, gold urn, though was all that was physically left of her husband who died in 2015 from Kidney cancer.
“There’s no amount of money that can replace a lost loved one that you’ve stolen from someone,” she said.
If you recognize this person or vehicle, please contact the sheriff’s office.