On the same afternoon that she mourned and buried a husband who died in a highway crash, Anne Crowley and her children arrived home to find their house had been burglarized.
The crime of opportunity occurred sometime between 10:30 a.m. and 2:25 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities twice checked on the house at the family’s request during that time, but didn’t see anything suspicious.
Steven Crowley, 50, was eulogized at an 11:30 a.m. funeral at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Delano and buried that afternoon down the street from the house of worship. The church is a short drive from the Crowley home on wooded property north of town.
Anne Crowley, along with her three children and others among her extended family, came directly back to the house from the parish cemetery, a 3-mile drive, to discover the burglary.
Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Findley characterized the daylight break-in as being obviously timed to coincide with the funeral and as a “kick in the teeth to the family. Unbelievable.”
“Can you imagine coming home after that,” Findley said, “the headache and the heartache of someone burglarizing your house?”
Daughter Elizabeth Crowley, 23, was among those who came upon what they hadn’t anticipated would be a crime scene.
“It was very disrespectful to my family,” said the eldest of the Crowley children, who traveled from Milwaukee for the services. “At this sort of time, [anticipating burglary] is not the first thing you think about. There are more important things you are focusing your energy on.”
Steven Crowley worked in the investment business for nearly 30 years and left “a legacy of success,” according the death notice published after the April 11 crash that killed him. He owned a horse breeding and training facility, operated behind the Crowley home, and was a wine aficionado.
Police say a car driven by Nnamdi Okolue, 25, of Burnsville, crossed the centerline on Hwy. 12 and struck Steven Crowley’s vehicle. Okolue was also killed in the crash.
Steven Crowley and Anne Crowley were married 27 years. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his sons Mark and William, his parents and a stepfather.
‘We want justice’
The parish’s priest, the Rev. Paul Kammen, said he’s heard about thieves who read obits so they’ll know when families will be out of the house, at funerals.
“This is just kind of brazen to do it in daylight, too,” he said.
The Crowley daughter said the family had alerted the Sheriff’s Office that no one would be home for several hours that day during the funeral and burial.
“Someone had mentioned it to us,” Elizabeth Crowley said, referring to notifying the Sheriff’s Office. “We did it just to be safe.”
Findley confirmed that the Crowleys requested a “house watch,” which sends a deputy to “drive in, look [the property] over and see if anything is amiss.” He said this was done a couple of times on behalf of the family.
“If there is no obvious sign of forced entry, we wouldn’t see this,” Findley said. “There is a segment of society that preys on people. You can take all the precautions, and it still may not be enough.”
The Sheriff’s Office said the extent of the Crowleys’ losses have yet to be determined. Investigators say they are looking for a vehicle — an older Suburban-style truck, charcoal gray — that could lead them to one or more suspects. Anyone with information about the break-in is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 763-682-1162.
Kammen said the homily he delivered before the Crowley family and fellow mourners in the overflowing sanctuary Wednesday was “about the inherent good in people.” But he said it’s fine for victims such as the Crowleys to feel anger about the crime.
“In Christianity, one of the virtues we believe in is justice,” Kammen continued. “We want justice for whoever [burglarized] their home.”