German crematorium workers sold corpses' gold teeth

Nine workers at a German crematorium are suspected of selling gold tooth fillings sifted from the ashes of hundreds of corpses, according to a story on

A recent police raid at the homes of the suspected workers at the öjendorf crematorium in Hamburg, Germany, netted $227,000 in cash.

Prosecutors said the workers appeared to have made searching the ashes for "metal leftovers" a routine operation, and they sold their findings to a third party, according to the Independent. A tenth man, also being investigated, was a dealer in coins and is believed to be their accomplice.

Reports suggest that the crematorium staff did not just search ashes for gold fillings. One unnamed former crematorium worker told a Hamburg newspaper that staff plundered corpses for every bit of jewelry on them before they were cremated, according to the story. They also stripped the coffins of their handles and sold them, he said.

Hamburg's crematoria operators insist that all the valuable remains of the deceased are collected after cremation, weighed, then sold off to companies that deal in precious metals, the story stated. The profits are then given to charity.

The operators alerted prosecutors last year after they noticed a big drop in the amounts of gold and other precious metals that were normally found after cremation.

The case has raised serious questions about the probity of Germany's crematoria operators, who incinerate the corpses of some 400,000 each year.

A report revealed that many crematoria and undertakers appeared to exploit the grief of relatives by simply not mentioning the issue of precious metals. Unless relatives themselves stipulated otherwise, they simply divided the amounts with the undertaker who had provided the corpse, according to the story.

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