SAN DIEGO (CBSLA) — The owner of a San Diego mortuary transportation service has been accused of stealing from the dead.
Sammy Willie Gates was arrested on Sept. 9 in connection with the theft from a dead man, but investigators say he has been linked to five more thefts.
The family of a 60-year-old Spring Valley man who died on Aug. 31 at his home of natural causes called the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department several days later to report that the home had been burglarized. A review of surveillance video showed a man that authorities identified as Gates arriving at the home in a white utility van, and later exiting with a gurney that carried two bags filled with property.
Investigators served a search warrant on Gate’s home in El Cajon, where they recovered the Spring Valley man’s safe and firearm, along with 16 more weapons that some are believed to be war relics dating back to the early 1900s. Two more safes, personal documents, jewelry, war medals, comic books and several thousand dollars in collectable coins were also recovered, sheriff’s officials said.
A gurney and body bags matching the surveillance video was recovered from Gates’ utility van, according to authorities.
Gates is the owner and operator of Mortuary Transportation Services, an independent mortuary service, but police say this company was not used for the transportation of the Spring Valley man’s body.
Since his arrest, detectives have identified five more victims of similar crimes allegedly committed by Gates.