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Police on the lookout for hearse thief

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- While funeral home workers picked up a body from a Dunbar home Wednesday morning, police say someone stole their hearse and drove it to Charleston's West Side.

Dunbar Police Chief Earl Whittington said Keller Funeral Home workers were called at 5:17 a.m. to a house in the 400 block of 20th Street in Dunbar.

The workers left the keys in the hearse's ignition and went inside to get the body, Whittington said.

"Then they heard a vehicle start," he said. "They came back outside and saw that their hearse was gone."

Dunbar Police notified other agencies to be on the lookout for the stolen vehicle. Charleston police found it later along Red Oak Street on the West Side, about 10 miles away, Whittington said.

Nothing appeared to be stolen from the hearse and it was returned to the funeral home, he said. No bodies were in the hearse when it was stolen. 

Whittington believes whoever is responsible wanted a quick ride and saw the idling hearse as the perfect opportunity. This act traumatized an already grieving family, he said.

"You come outside and explain to them that you can't take their loved one right now because someone took your vehicle," he said. "It's really sad."

Detectives are looking through local surveillance footage to possibly identify the thief. Any witnesses are asked to call the Dunbar Police Department at 304-766-0204.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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