Police Looking for Suspects In Break-In at City Morgue

Three men are being sought by authorities after breaking into a city morgue in a botched robbery attempt, city police said Monday.

The three robbers broke into the morgue at City Hospital No. 50 on Ulitsa Vucheticha, near the Timiryazevskaya metro station in northern Moscow, at about 11 p.m. Friday, police spokesman Vladimir Paklin said.

After assaulting the morgue attendant on duty, the suspects unsuccessfully tried to plunder a metal safe and then fled, Paklin said. The morgue attendant, who suffered minor injuries in the attack, reported the incident to the Timiryazevsky district police precinct, he said.

Paklin said he did not know the contents of the safe. A woman who answered the telephone at the morgue Monday declined to comment.

Citing a doctor on duty at the hospital, Gazeta.ru reported Monday that the morgue employee opened the door for the masked robbers after they told him that they had coffins to deliver.

Armed with a gun and a baseball bat, the robbers tied the employee up with tape and managed to open the safe with an angle grinder, only to discover that the safe was empty, the report said.

The safe was intended to hold money paid by relatives of the deceased for services rendered, Gazeta.ru reported. The morgue attendant managed to untie himself after 90 minutes and went to the police, the newspaper said.

While relatively rare, robberies of morgues are not unheard of.

In October 2005, assailants in the Moscow region town of Kashira, 115 kilometers south of Moscow, beat an elderly morgue attendant to death and made off with a safe and a computer.

Other morgue employees have fared better. In November 1998, members of an organized crime group attempted to steal icons from the morgue at City Hospital No. 20, but the employee on duty repelled the attackers, Gazeta.ru reported.

The robbers had spotted the icons at a funeral for the father of a fellow gang member, the report said.