A wild scene unfolded outside a Los Angeles church over the weekend when a thief drove off with a hearse with the body still inside.

The funeral director had reportedly left the vehicle running outside the church ahead of the funeral, the pastor's wife said.

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When he went outside to collect the casket, he noticed that the black hearse was missing, she said. Devastated, he immediately called a group of ministry friends to help track down the missing car, she said.

Meanwhile, family members driving to the funeral had been notified of the theft and saw a hearse passing them near 52nd and Main streets, about four blocks from the Baptist church. They made the driver pull over and began angrily arguing with him, Little said.

The thief was taken into custody after the physical altercation with the enraged family members and his mental condition was being evaluated.

The body of 19-year-old Jonte Lee Reed (above) was not disturbed and the funeral was held a short time later.

The pastor's wife said she could not recall an incident like that in the church's 75-year history, calling it "one for the books."