Paul and Mary Alexander were already feeling very emotional. On the same evening they attended calling hours for Mary's mother, they returned home to find a door to the garage pried open, a second door to the home pushed open, and more than $1,000 stolen from their bedroom.
"I went to check the top of my dresser where I keep money for church. It was missing and I said, 'We've been hit,'" Paul said.
The burglary happened in January and Massillon police now believe 16 other burglaries, mostly in the northeast section of town, were likely committed by the same group of unidentified crooks.
Burglaries in Jackson Township, Perry Township, Alliance and other parts of Stark County may also be linked.
Mary said the break-in to her home left her feeling more than violated.
"There's a fear, and honestly, I think this may have something to do with the heavy drugs that are out there now," Mary said.
Detective Jamie Slutz suspects the thieves are parking cars in neighborhoods and then knocking on doors or ringing doorbells. If no one answers, doors are kicked down or windows are busted.
The crimes are mostly happening between 5 p.m and 9 p.m and the crooks are snatching money and jewelry.
"Massillon is a safe town and a nice place to live. That's what I'm concerned about, is we don't want these things happening here in our town," Slutz said.
Mary belongs to an online neighborhood awareness group and continues to read about more and more homes being targeted. The most recent burglary happened April 7.
"I pray that they will change. That's basically it," she said.
Slutz said police are stepping up neighborhood patrols and urging residents to be on the lookout for suspicious activity or cars. Police don't have any solid leads on the crooks.
"Get a license plate number and a description of the vehicle and call the police," he added.