Manhunt For Victorian Thief Targeting Funeral Donations
A Victorian man is targeting funerals and stealing donations from grieving families - including cash for a young autistic boy - in a string of thefts police call "disgusting".
The most recent theft happened at an Avondale Heights church on January 12 during the funeral of a man who had requested donations to assist in the care of his four-year-old autistic son.
The large donation had been raised by family, friends and a fundraiser run by colleagues.
The man was not invited to the funeral and was seen loitering in the church foyer about 11am before making off with the donation envelopes.
Police believe it is not the first time he has struck mourners, with cash taken from a church donation box during a funeral service in Bundoora in November.
At the time, the man entered the church with the funeral procession and took the donation box from the sign-in table.
Investigators believe he may be targeting funerals where there has been a request for donations in lieu of flowers written in funeral notices.
"There have been reports of a man fitting this description attending other funerals doing the same thing," Constable Belinda Petrovska said.
"It's disgusting. This man is targeting grieving people at their most vulnerable."
Police on Friday released CCTV footage of the man they believe is responsible.
He is described as middle-aged, 175cm tall with receding grey hair and tattoos on his left upper arm.