Deputy Accused of Using Obits to Plan Her Burglaries

Janelle Gericke was allegedly trying to break into Wisconsin homes even while pregnant
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2019 8:40 AM CST

A former Wisconsin sheriff's deputy has been arrested after her own colleagues became suspicious she was involved in something not on the up-and-up. The Washington Post reports that Janelle Gericke, 29, was hit with a felony burglary charge Tuesday, accused of breaking into—or trying to—seven homes in Jefferson County between February 2018 and June of this year, per a criminal complaint from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. Gericke's alleged MO: She'd pore over local obituaries, then head over to the homes of family members while they were at memorial or funeral services, authorities say. In situations when she was confronted—in two cases by people who recognized her—Gericke would say things like she'd been hired to clean the house or was there to purchase items she'd seen on Facebook Marketplace but got the address wrong, per the complaint.

The alleged burglary spree began unraveling in April, when Gericke is said to have attempted a burglary at the home of one of her co-workers, who'd announced she was leaving town for two days. That officer's security system started remotely sending her alerts, and surveillance video showed a pregnant woman trying to get into the home; two deputies IDed the woman as Gericke. Jefferson County Sheriff's Office officials handed the case to the state DOJ, which soon amassed enough evidence to arrest her. Gericke was fired in July; both the Post and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel note it's unclear why charges took so long. "It's sad," a resident tells FOX6. "Why would someone want to do that when the people are going through something like that? ... That's awful." If convicted, Gericke could face more than 12 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. She's set to appear in court Dec. 30. (More weird crimes stories.)

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