Home U.S California mortuary worker robbed dead man's home just hours after he died 

California mortuary worker robbed dead man's home just hours after he died 


California mortuary worker, 49, is caught on surveillance footage robbing a man’s home just hours after he died by loading a body bag with his belongings

  • Sammy Williecarl Gates, 49, is charged with burglary and possession of a firearm after allegedly taking a safe and gun from a dead man’s home
  • Police were first called to the house on August 31 for a welfare check
  • They found a man deceased by natural causes and called a contracted independent mortuary service to transport the body
  • Gates was not the service used but surveillance footage allegedly shows him arriving at the house later that day
  • He takes two bags of property from the house before entering with a body bag on a gurney to take more 
  • Since his arrest, five more potential victims have been identified

A California mortuary driver is charged with burglary after allegedly robbing the home of a man who died less than a day before by packing a body bag with stolen goods and wheeling it out of the house on a gurney. 

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office, Sammy Williecarl Gates, 49, was caught on surveillance footage stealing two bags of property from the dead man’s house before wheeling in the gurney for more. 

He pleaded not guilty to the charge and to a separate charge of possession of a firearm in Superior Court in San Diego County on Tuesday.    

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A man who police believed to be Sammy Williecarl Gates, 49, was caught on surveillance footage robbing a dead man's home in San Diego on August 31 using a body bag and a gurney

A man who police believed to be Sammy Williecarl Gates, 49, was caught on surveillance footage robbing a dead man’s home in San Diego on August 31 using a body bag and a gurney

Police were initially called to the home in Spring Valley just after noon on August 31 to carry out a welfare check. 

They found a 60-year-old man deceased of natural causes and he was transported to a mortuary by a contracted independent mortuary service. 

Two days later, the family of the man contacted police to report that a safe and a firearm were missing. 

On September 4, they called again to report that they believed there had been a burglary after viewing the Ring footage from the man’s home. 

The video showed that around 11pm on August 31, an unknown black male adult, who police later identified as Gates, arrived at the house with a white utility van. 

The footage then shows him entering the home twice and emerging with the packed bags and the packed body bag on the gurney.

Gates is the owner of a independent mortuary service named Mortuary Transportation Services but this was not the company that had been used by police to remove the man’s body hours before. 

He was arrested on September 9 after detectives from the Rancho San Diego Sheriff’s station served a search warrant on his home and found the missing safe and firearm. 

They also found 16 additional firearms, many believed to be war relics dating back to the early 1900s, as well as two additional safes, multiple personal identifying documents, jewelry, watches, war medals, comic books and several thousand dollars in collectible coins. 

The video showed that around 11pm on August 31, an unknown black male adult, who police later identified as Gates, arrived at the house with a white utility van, pictured above

The video showed that around 11pm on August 31, an unknown black male adult, who police later identified as Gates, arrived at the house with a white utility van, pictured above

The San Diego Sheriff's Office released the video to identify other potential victims

The San Diego Sheriff’s Office released the video to identify other potential victims

A gurney and body bag matching those in the surveillance video were also in the residence.   

Since Gates’ arrest, five other potential victims have been identified, including two deceased people whose homes he is alleged to have robbed in July and August.  

It is not known if his mortuary service was used to transport their bodies and he has not been charged with the suspected thefts. 

Information about the case was released on Tuesday as the sheriff’s office search for further witnesses or tips from families who may have been targeted.  

The Sheriff’s Department has asked anyone with information or potential victims to contact Detective Dalton at (619) 660-7037. Anonymous tips can be left by calling Crime Stoppers at (800) 580-8477 or visiting sdcrimestoppers.org.

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