JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Police are asking for the public's help locating a stolen van, which was transporting a body at the time it was taken, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said Monday afternoon.
A Be On The Lookout has been issued for a silver 2006 Honda Odyssey van with Florida tag number NIS5N.
Police said the van was left running with the keys in the ignition when it was stolen along Arlington Expressway near the Regency Square Mall, police said. The van was transporting a dead body for work purposes, police said.
News4Jax was told the driver left the van running while he went inside Affordable Cremation Solutions to pick up paperwork. Moments later, the driver came out to see a thief driving off in the van.
Gil Smith, News4Jax crime and safety analyst, said it didn't take long for a thief to realize the vehicle was an easy target.
"This was a crime of opportunity," Smith said. "The car was unlocked and the car was running, so he just jumped in and stole the car."
The van's back windows were tinted, so the thief might not have realized that there was a body inside. If the thief is caught, the severity of the charges would be based on the thief's intent, according to Smith.
“Well, we know he’s going to be charged with auto theft," Smith said. "Now, it depends on his intent. Did he intend to steal the body? If he intended to steal the body and sell it, then there’s a charge for dealing a dead body.”
The owner of the business, who wished to remain unnamed, said he cares less about the van and more about finding the body.
"I would like for us to be able to recover this family's loved one as quick and safe as possible so this family does not go through any more stress or hurt than they're already going through," he said. "We just need to get the body back so the family can have complete closure and relief."
Anyone who sees the van is asked to call 911 or the Sheriff's Office at 904-630-0500.