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McCaleb: Obit bandits allegedly use newspaper to target homes

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Even in the 21st century, local newspapers provide many vital services to their readers and the communities they serve.

Source of information for news about crime, construction, schools and more? Check.

Government watchdog? Uh huh.

Place to find coupons, bargains, and other valuable information about area retailers and service providers? Yep.

Help for planning your weekend? You betcha.

More cynical readers likely would say that their local newspaper is best used as a bird-cage liner or a temporary floor mat when painting the house. That might not be a vital service, but it’s a service nonetheless.

Then there’s this:

According to area police, a couple from Pistakee Highlands found a more sinister use for the newspaper.

Authorities say that Jacquelyn Buchholz and Jason Werner scoured obituary notices in local newspapers, including this one, to determine when families would be attending wakes or funerals. They then allegedly burglarized the homes when they knew no one would be there.

Their apparent undoing came when they found the family of a Barrington home they targeted still at home. Rather than give up, Buchholz rang the doorbell of a neighboring home, police said. When no one answered, she allegedly forced open a rear window and crawled through. But a resident was home, and he chased Buchholz back out the window, police said.

During her escape, Buchholz apparently dropped her cellphone. A Barrington patrol officer found it in the area, leading police to the couple.

To date, Buchholz and Werner are charged with a single count each of residential burglary and theft stemming from the Barrington break-in. But they still are being investigated in several other burglaries in the area, and additional charges are expected.

Breaking into someone’s home is bad enough. But targeting families who are mourning the loss of a loved one? That’s, well, despicable.

• • •

Protect yourself: Barrington police offered these tips to protect your home if your name was publicized in connection with an event that will happen at a specific time and place away from your home:

• Contact your police department to see whether they can offer an extra watch for the day(s) you will be away.

• Leave a car parked in the driveway or ask a trusted neighbor to park there while you are away.

• Leave lights on, or a radio/television. For extended absences, use timers.

• Ask a trusted neighbor to house-sit or keep an extra eye until you get back.

• Don’t post your location information on social media sites when you are away from home.

• • • 

Who won?: A number of folks have asked me the past few days what I thought of the first presidential debate. I had to tell them that I didn’t watch it.

It’s not because I didn’t want to watch. I just happened to be booked solid all day Wednesday into the night.

We held our first-ever Best Under 40 dinner and awards ceremony Wednesday evening at the Crystal Lake Country Club. There, we honored the McHenry County Business Journal’s 2012 class of 15 outstanding young professionals under the age of 40 who are making a difference, both in their trade as well as in their communities. Congratulations to each of the recipients, who are listed at the bottom of this column. It was a great event, though I couldn’t stay for all of it.

That’s because after some socializing and opening remarks, I drove to McHenry West High School for a special screening of the anti-bullying documentary “Finding Kind.” The Northwest Herald co-sponsored the event and helped pay to bring in the movie’s creators, Molly Thompson and Lauren Parsekian.

Thompson and Parsekian introduced their film before the screening, and then led the audience of about 400 through a portion of their Kind Campaign program afterward. It was an emotional experience.

We co-sponsored the event as part of our bullying series, “Confronting the Bully.” If you missed it in print, “Confronting the Bully” still can be read and viewed (yes, there are videos) in its entirety at www.nwherald.com/projects/bullying.

• • •

Still going: Even later Wednesday evening, we launched our expanded and vastly improved PlanitNorthwest.com site.

Celebrating its third birthday this month, PlanitNorthwest.com is the go-and-do website for McHenry County, complete with reduced-price vouchers, coupons and other deals from area restaurants and retailers. Last week, we expanded the content on the site, adding all of the Northwest Herald’s award-winning entertainment and lifestyle content.

In print, we also repackaged and rebranded our Thursday entertainment section – now called PlanitPl@y – and today’s lifestyle section. You’re going to want to spend some time with Planit Style Sunday. It’s filled with tons of great local features, columns, and other interesting stories.

And if you haven’t been to PlanitNorthwest.com, give it a visit.

Let me know what you think of the website and our updated feature sections. My contact information is below.

• • •

Best under: Below are the 15 young professionals who were named this year’s Best Under 40. Congratulations to each of them, and thank you for all you do.

• Rafael Castaneda, a Woodstock High School graduate now attending Roosevelt University in Chicago.

• Kevin Charles, a construction engineer for the McHenry County Division of Transportation and captain in the Illinois Army National Guard.

• Chris Christensen, a vice president at Neis Insurance Agency.

• Joanna Colletti, regulatory supervisor for the Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.

• Carolyn Grieves, water department manager at Baxter & Woodman Consulting Engineers.

• Amber Johnson, president of Martin Johnson Tax and Financial Services.

• Dr. Nick Malooley, a chiropractor at Malooley Sport and Family Chiropractic.

• Dr. Patrick McEneaney, a podiatric surgeon at Cary-Grove Foot and Ankle Center.

• Connie Perez, owner of Aesthetics Boutique and Redesign.

• Sarah Ponitz, executive director of Faith in Action of McHenry County.

• Jamie Rein, an attorney with the Aleen R. Tiffany law firm.

• James Richter, assistant director of economic development for Crystal Lake.

• Carolina Schottland, attorney with the Botto, Gilbert, Schottland, Lancaster law firm.

• Emily Smith, a real estate agent with Harding Real Estate and co-founder of the My Sister’s Dress event.

• Thomas Vaclavek, an attorney with the Mohr & Vaclavek law firm.

Have a great Sunday.

• Dan McCaleb is senior editor of the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at 815-526-4603, or by email at dmccaleb@shawmedia.com.

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