Bereaved stunned by funeral home theft

By Andrew Alexander

Losing a loved one is never an easy thing to deal with, and making funeral arrangements has never been a pleasant duty. 

The family and loved ones of the late Kay White, however, had an even harder time than most due to a crime that left Shackleford funeral home in Adamsville unusable, and the bereaved reeling in disbelief. 

According to Adamsville Police Chief Bill McCall, Shackleford Funeral Directors in Adamsville was the victim of a burglary in which the perpetrator, or perpetrators, stole a 100-pound copper coil from the facility’s air conditioning unit sometime between Tuesday, May 24, and Sunday, May 28.

“We were already in a bad spot emotionally and then that happened,” said Kay White’s son Kaleb Brown. “We had to make a decision right there on the spot.”

The family’s visitation services were scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, according to Brown, so they had no choice but to move the services to Shackleford in Savannah and begin at 3 p.m. instead. 

Brown said that the theft caused a lot of people to not be able to pay their last respects to his mother, and a lot of people were really upset about it.

Chief McCall stated that the last time the funeral home had operated the Goodman 5-ton  air conditioning unit was the Tuesday before last, and the funeral home’s director was unaware of the crime that had taken place until he went to turn on the air conditioning Sunday.

“Whoever did it took the coils out and reassembled the A/C unit’s casing along the southwest corner of the facility under the carport,” said Chief McCall. “No one would have ever known it was missing by just driving by. The thermostat had to be turned on before the problem became visible.”

After personally checking in with 10 area scrap yards, and also looking into four or five anonymous tips from the public, the perpetrators have yet to be apprehended.

“Somebody knows what happened, and if you have any information at all, call Chief McCall,” said Adamsville’s Police Chief. “Anonymous calls are preferred and we’ll go from there.”

Chief McCall and James W. Smith Jr., of Smith Metal Company Inc., in Selmer, seem to believe that thefts like this are quite common when times are tough economically, and because of that there are regulations to thwart the efforts of thieves.

According to Smith, and TCA 62-9-101-104, the state law regulating scrap metal recycling, individuals that bring in copper or copper aluminum radiators to scrap yards or metal companies must provide photo identification, a finger print, and a home mailing address. 

Those individuals will then have a five-day waiting period before they will receive their check from the metal company.

“We’ve been complying with these regulations for awhile now,” said Smith, “and we’ve actually had to turn business away because they didn’t want to have the check mailed to them.”

Smith stated that the Tennessee Recycling Association governs metal companies and scrap yards across the state, and the first time penalty for non-compliance with these regulations is just a citation, but the second offense can result in a loss of the business’ recycling license.

Shackleford Funeral Directors owner Robert Shackleford stated that the situation was unfortunate for the family of Kay White, but made assurances that the family was charged no extra fees for the movement of their loved one to Shackleford Funeral Directors in Savannah.

Shackleford Funeral Directors in Adamsville has since replaced the air conditioning unit and hopes that thievery will never again be the reason for a family being inconvenienced in such a way.

When asked how the whole situation made him feel Brown said, “I was stunned. I couldn’t believe someone would do something like that to a funeral home. 

“We forgive whoever did it,” said Brown. “We’re not mad at them, but we do hope they have to serve the consequences of what they have done.”