A 27-year-old Downey man faces criminal charges after being accused of stealing a ring from the hand of a deceased woman back in September.

Mark Anthony Zuniga was arrested on Dec. 1 and booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center for one count of “removing articles from a dead body” — a felony violation, according to Riverside police.

Mark Anthony Zuniga, 27 years old of Downey.

On Sept. 24, an elderly woman passed away at a hospital in Riverside and a mortuary based out of Orange County handled arrangements for the family and used a mortuary transport company to drive the woman’s body to their facility, said the Riverside Police Department.

A few days later, family members noticed a ring worth thousands of dollars was missing from their dead relative’s hand and reported the theft to the police, according to investigators.

Detectives with the Property Crimes Unit discovered the ring had been pawned in Los Angeles County by Zuniga, Riverside police said. They were able to return the stolen ring to the woman’s family “who expressed gratitude for the thorough investigative work that led to this arrest and return of a family treasure,” said the Riverside Police Department.

Authorities did not name the mortuary company but said Zuniga had been relieved of his transportation duties.

Zuniga has since been released from police custody on a “Notice to Appear” citation.

Police ask anyone with information regarding this case to call Detective Edward Vasquez at 951-353-7955 or email EVazquez@RiversideCA.gov. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can email rpdtips@riversideca.gov.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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