Caskets, embalming fluid stolen from funeral home

Derik Vanderford Staff Writer

January 3, 2014

UNION — Three caskets and 30 bottles of embalming fluid were among the approximately $15,000 worth of merchandise and equipment stolen from Gibson & Brown Funeral Home earlier this week.

Sharon Brown Harriott, owner and manager of the funeral home, was out of town for the holidays between Dec. 21-30, and came to the funeral home on Dec. 31. Harriott said there was no way to know for sure, but after talking with police, she believes entry was made through the embalming room door.

“I’m saddened and dismayed that someone would stoop to the level of coming in and stealing from a business with dignity that has been an institution in the community for 60 years,” Harriott said. “They took things that are only related to the funeral business, and I find it very interesting they would target specific items from a funeral home. It seems to me they would have to have knowledge of this facility or the funeral home profession.”

Public Safety officers responded Monday afternoon to Gibson & Brown, 117 Ravenscroft St., in reference to a burglary and spoke with Clinton Gregory Sr., who looks after the funeral home.

Gregory said he unlocked the door and noticed that the door to the embalming room was open on the inside. That door, he said, is never open.

He found the back door to the building — which also goes into the embalming room — was unlocked. Gregory pointed out that two Torchier lamps — valued at $400 each — were stolen, but the globes to the lamps were left lying in a pew in the sanctuary.

Officers pulled fingerprints from inside the globes, and photos were taken.

Gregory also pointed out that several casket stands had been moved from a storage room into the sanctuary, and several caskets appeared to be missing. Cabinets in the embalming room were also open.

Officers went back to the funeral home later to meet with Donald Rosebro, who has a key to the funeral home and were able to inventory missing items. Besides the two lamps, Rosebro verified that a number of other items were missing:

• Ferno mortuary cot (silver in color) valued at $2,000

• Approximately 30 bottles of embalming fluid valued at $1,000

• Register stand valued at $500

• Gold and black casket valued at $2,500

• Triangle Atlantic casket (light bronze in color) valued at $3,600

• White casket valued at $3,000

• Gold plated church trucks valued at $1,000

• Approximately 20 register books valued at $400

All missing items are valued at a combined total of $14,800.

Harriott said Gibson & Brown Funeral Home was founded in the 1960s, and her father fulfilled his dream in the early 1970s by becoming a mortician there. In 1970, Harriott’s parents became the sole proprietors of the funeral home, and she inherited the business when her father passed away.

Harriott — a full-time administrator at Midlands Technical College — said Gibson & Brown’s business has waned over the past year because she does not have the time to put into the business. She said she is currently looking for someone else to acquire the business because Gibson & Brown has been too successful over the years, and she wants to see the funeral home continue to serve the community.