Burglar steals hearse from funeral home

NEW ORLEANS – Police are searching for the man who disturbed the dead at the Charbonnet Funeral home in Treme.

Owner Louis Charbonnet says the burglar broke into the home around 10 p.m. Thursday, and stole thousands of dollars worth of equipment and other items.

"When I get here, the place is all messed up," said Charbonnet. "We start looking around and we notice TVs off the wall and computers gone, speaker systems gone, all this other stuff."

Charbonnet says the burglar loaded up a hearse and drove off.

"The guy apparently tried to steal the van, then he decided to take the hearse, loaded it up with all the loot and took off with the hearse," he said.

Security video showed the man paying his respects to three bodies laid out for Friday's funerals. Charbonnet says he paid particular attention to the body of jazz legend Warren "Porgy" Jones.

"Every time he passed the body, he stopped and hesitated a little while. At some point, he checked to see if he had jewelry on him or something. This guy was a strange guy."

Treme neighbors want to know what kind of person would break into a funeral home.

"I've been around here all my life and I ain't never heard of no stuff like that," said Albert Picque, who's lived in Treme for 62 years. "Breaking in a funeral home, man, that's unreal."

Charbonnet says it appears the intruder got in through a back door to the funeral home. He says the door was pried open and police found a bunch of keys on the ground next to the door. "We thought it might be a vagrant who was sleeping in the neighborhood."

Late Friday afternoon, New Orleans police recovered the stolen hearse at Prytania and Jackson in the Garden District. The loot was long gone and so was the burglar.


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