Los Angeles News

Man allegedly steals purse at Vietnman vet's funeral, caught in picture

Thursday, July 19, 2012

At first glance, it looks like an all-American tribute as a Marine Corps Honor Guard draped the coffin of a Vietnam veteran. But in the background as family and friends mourn and "Taps" is being played, a suspect is preying on those at their most vulnerable.

"We were literally right there, 25 feet away. We were right there, family, everyone around, you just wouldn't think that would happen," said Angela Earthman.

Earthman was burying her father, 64-year-old Eddie Rodriguez, in June when Glendora police say the suspect targeted her and her grieving family, breaking into their SUV and stealing her purse.

"There's stuff in there I can't replace, there's cards from family and friends that I never got to look at. That's the thing that hit me the most," she said.

When Earthman told her friend Nicole Sato, who was taking photos of burial at Oakdale Cemetery, she checked the pictures and realized she'd captured the suspect in action.

"I think it's disgusting, I couldn't believe it, I've never heard of such a thing in all my life. It was shocking and disturbing, and who would think to do something like that is beyond me," said Sato.

Several hours later, the suspect, identified as Jose Abrajan, tried to use a stolen credit card at In-N-Out. That put police on his trail, and surveillance video even gave them a license plate number.

Police arrested the 31-year-old Thursday, calling him a serial criminal.

"This wasn't the first time that he'd committed this crime. Detectives were able to recover lots of stolen property, stolen purses, stolen cellphones, and found out that he apparently does this for a living," said Glendora Police Cpt. Tim Staab.

Authorities also said Abrajan was already on probation for possession of stolen property.

Earthman says her father would have been horrified by the crime, but says she's certain he helped catch this cold hearted suspect.

"He's my guardian angel right now, so I know," she said.

Abrajan remained behind bars Thursday night on $45,000 bail.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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u.s. troops, los angeles news, leanne suter
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