Mortuary worker stole dead man’s safe, gun by hiding them in body bag, CA police say

Mitchell Willetts
·1 min read

Just hours after his death, a 60-year-old California man’s home was burglarized — his gun and safe taken, according to the San Diego Sheriff’s Department.

Sammy Willie Gates, 49-year-old owner of Mortuary Transportation Services, was seen on surveillance video on Aug. 31, wheeling body bags with the dead man’s belongings out on a gurney, and loading them into a white van parked outside, police said.

Two days after the man died, on Sept. 2, the man’s family called police and said items had gone missing. Then on Sept. 4, the family contacted police again after looking over the surveillance footage of the home and seeing it had been robbed, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department news release said.

Detectives got a warrant and searched Gates’ house in El Cajon on Sept. 9, where they said they found a large collection of stolen property.

“The victim’s safe and firearm were recovered as well as 16 additional firearms, many believed to be war relics dating back to the early 1900s,” the department’s release said. “Two additional safes, multiple personal identifying documents, jewelry, watches, war medals, comic books and several thousand dollars in collectible coins were also recovered from Gates’ residence.”

Police say they have identified five other victims since arresting Gates on charges of burglary and being a felon in possession of a gun.

The department encourages anyone with information to call Detective Dalton at (619) 660-7037, or dial Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.