A woman in North Texas was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly stealing a vehicle with a dead body inside.

Fort Worth police arrested 36-year-old Valerie Traglor-Ellis of Azle on charges of auto theft and abuse of a corpse. The arrest came just a few hours after a mortuary transport van went missing from John Peter Smith Hospital, according to NBC 5 DFW.

Traglor-Ellis allegedly stole the vehicle at approximately 7 p.m. when the driver had left the van unattended in the ambulance bay while picking up another body.

After driving roughly 2 miles away from the hospital, located at 1500 S. Main St., Traglor-Ellis is believed to have abandoned the van and its deceased passenger in the 2600 block of Park Place Avenue, not far from the Fort Worth Zoo.

Fort Worth police recovered the vehicle and returned it and the corpse — undisturbed during the incident — to the mortuary.

Investigators checked surveillance camera footage from the Fort Worth Zoo, allegedly spotting Traglor-Ellis fleeing the scene on foot, according to Fox 4 KDFW. The suspect was picked up by police later that same evening.

It is unknown whether Traglor-Ellis was aware that a dead body was inside the vehicle when she allegedly committed auto theft.

“Abuse of a corpse” in Texas refers to when a person treats a dead body or remains in an offensive manner, such as by vandalism, disinterment, or dissection. The offense can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the situation.

As for the other element of the alleged crime, in the first three months of 2024, the Fort Worth Police Department logged 1,262 stolen vehicles — a 56.4% uptick compared to the same period last year. Overall, property crime has risen in Fort Worth by 8.1% year over year.

In comparison, the Dallas Police Department (DPD) recorded 4,110 stolen vehicles in the first three months of 2024, according to data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard. This is a 17.9% increase compared to the same period last year.

Motor vehicle thefts reached record heights in Dallas in 2023. Both in 2023 and 2024, a significant share of vehicles stolen were from Downtown Dallas, encompassed within DPD Sector 130. Of the 18,847 motor vehicle thefts in 2023, 960 occurred in Sector 130—the most of all DPD sectors. As of June 11, the sector was once again beating out all others, with a total of 385 motor vehicle thefts.

Downtown Dallas regularly puts up higher crime figures than the downtown area of Fort Worth, which is patrolled by a specialized neighborhood police unit and private security guards.

Additionally, DPD has been dealing with a significant officer shortage, with just 3,000 sworn officers, roughly 1,000 short of the staffing levels recommended by the City per an analysis of policing needs by population size. Further, City leaders opted to budget DPD just $654 million this fiscal year, less than other high-crime cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City allocate to their law enforcement agencies.