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CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8 | cbs8.com

Man arrested on suspicion of using body bag to steal from deceased man, sheriffs searching for other victims

Sammy Gates was arrested for residential burglary and felon in possession of a firearm.

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. — Investigators are looking for more possible victims of a rather despicable crime. A mortuary worker was arrested, accused of stealing items from a dead man’s Spring Valley home.

San Diego Sheriff’s Department says they received a call for a welfare check for a man in Spring Valley on August 31. A 60-year-old man was found dead from natural causes. The victim was transported to a mortuary by a contracted independent mortuary service.

Almost 12 hours later a man walked in with a gurney and left with two bags of stolen goods. The alleged man was identified as Sammy Gates. He then returned with a gurney and empty body bag, exiting with the body bag full of property shortly after.

When the deceased man’s family realized there were items missing from the house they called the sheriff’s department. Two days later after reviewing surveillance video from the home, they discovered the house had been burglarized.

On September 9, detectives from the Rancho San Diego Sheriff's Station served a search warrant at Gates’ residence in unincorporated El Cajon. 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. 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. A gurney and body bags matching the surveillance video at the victim's residence were recovered from Gates' white utility van.

Gates was arrested for residential burglary and felon in possession of a firearm.

Since his arrest, Detectives have identified five additional victims. If you have additional information regarding the investigation, or believe you have knowledge of additional victims, you are urged to contact (619) 660-7037.