LOS ANGELES (AP) — It has all the hallmarks of an only-in-Los Angeles crime: A thief stole a hearse — with a body inside — that went on a wild ride, ending with a chase and a crash on a busy freeway.
Authorities say they found the body undisturbed inside a casket Thursday morning and took a male into custody after the crash, which closed the 110 Freeway during the morning commute. The person’s identity was not immediately released.
The crime began Wednesday night, when the thief stole the black Lincoln Navigator from outside St. Anthony Greek Orthodox Church in East Pasadena. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department pleaded with the thief on social media to return the body in a post that was widely shared online.
“Out of all the bad decisions you have made, at least make one good one & bring back the deceased person & casket inside the Navigator,” it tweeted.
Local media have reported that the body remained in the vehicle while a mortuary attendant brought a different body into the church and that’s when the SUV was stolen.
On Thursday morning, a witness reported seeing the SUV and was following it. Los Angeles police officers pursued the hearse on local streets and onto the freeway until it crashed around 7:45 a.m. At least one officer was involved in the crash, though Los Angeles police did not immediately have details about it.
No one was seriously injured, police said.
Video footage from news helicopters showed that it has heavy front-end damage. It was not immediately clear if the person in custody was the same person who had stolen the hearse.
The Sheriff’s Department did not identify the mortuary.
Associated Press Writer Brian Melley contributed.