For the family of Air Force veteran Mike Sanders of Lake Dallas, their grief over his death last month quickly turned to anger when they discovered someone had stolen almost everything from his house – possibly during the funeral service.
"I remember driving home from the service thinking, ‘This is when people break into people's houses,’ and not realizing at that very moment, it was probably happening,” said his sister Lou Albright.
Sanders, 57, a veteran of the Vietnam War, was laid to rest July 17 with full military honors. He had been ill but his death was unexpected, his family said.
"He was a wonderful brother,” Albright said. "He loved his family and we loved him dearly." When his family later returned to his house, they found it stripped of almost everything. "They took his pickup, they took a Harley Davidson, the surround-sound, DVD players, all the electronics,” said Lou’s husband Phil Albright.
They even took three lawnmowers out of a shed in the backyard, he said. His family believes the thieves live in the neighborhood and knew he had died and had lived alone."The timing of the funeral, all that stuff, it had to be somebody I feel like within the neighborhood,” Phil Albright said.
A man who lives less than a block away was arrested in Sanders’ pickup for driving while intoxicated the day of the funeral, his family said. But the suspect was soon released. At that point, the truck had not yet been reported stolen.
Police are investigating the thefts and have three suspects, said Lake Dallas police Lt. Michael Sparby. Nobody has been charged. "Somebody came in and stripped him of his last dignity,” Lou Albright said. “Everything that he had left that was worth anything disappeared."
His family said they don't expect to recover the lost property but do want justice. "I mean who do you trust if you can't trust your neighbors?" Phil Albright asked. “"I can't believe his fellow Americans would do this to him -- the people that he trusted."