Funeral director nabs paper pilferer

October 10, 2017 06:12 PM

ALBANY - An Albany funeral director has finally been able to solve an ongoing criminal mystery that's been perplexing him for years.

It's not the crime of the century, but if you're expecting to read the obituaries every day, and your business depends on it, you might be able to understand why Mark Levine became so frustrated that someone had been stealing the newspaper from the front porch of his funeral home.

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This is a story about someone who has been grabbing headlines -- apparently for no reason at all -- for quite some time.

"It's been going on for about four years and there's been multiple people," says Funeral Director Mark Levine, of the Levine Memorial Chapel.

Fed up with the inconvenience, Levine scheduled viewing hours in front of his computer screen. After doing that he was able to establish that every Saturday and Sunday morning, at roughly the same time, the same gentleman walked up the steps of his funeral home and swiped his newspaper, apparently clueless he was being recorded, and obviously unaware that Mark and his friends -- one of whom is a retired police officer -- were waiting for him this past weekend.

"Like clockwork, 9:15 on Sunday, there he was," Levine said.

And so the undercover undertaker and his friends confronted the paper pilferer, and the only thing Mark wanted to know was, why.

"He said, 'Mr. Levine, I have money in my pocket, I go to church regularly, and I left church and I read one of the readings was Thou Shalt Not Steal, and here I am,'" Levine recalled.

In other words, there was no explanation. When Albany Police were called in, they offered Levine a chance to press criminal charges, but he declined.

"He was honest and he said I don't know why I'm taking your paper and I believe in forgiveness," Levine stated.

And then, the most extraordinary thing happened. After finding out a few things about the man who had caused him so much consternation, Levine wound up inviting him to his home for Thanksgiving dinner.

"If he doesn't come for Thanksgiving, I'll see to it that we get a meal to him or his family," Levine said, "That's the way it's going to be."

Levine says he's just happy they can finally take this case and put it to rest.



Dan Levy

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