Embalming Fluid Stolen From Funeral Home

They pried open the back door after hours. A malfunctioning alarm system allowed burglars to steal a box of embalming fluid from the Brooks Sterling & Garrett Funeral Home in North Tyler.

"As to why somebody would want to use it, I couldn't tell you," Reverend Reginald Garrett, president, said. "That stuff is extremely toxic."

It's not the first time Tyler police have dealt with this kind of theft. The chemical has become more popular the past several years.

"They'll take a marijuana cigarette and they'll dip it into this," Sergeant Bill Goecking said. "And after they let it dry, they'll then smoke it. It's supposed to enhance some type of psychedelic reaction from this."

The government says embalming fluid can cause a slew of short- and long-term effects, including brain damage, coma, and spinal cord destruction.

"We always wear protective gear -- gloves, mask, all these things -- to protect ourselves from smelling and ingesting these fumes," Garrett said. "It baffles me as to why anyone would want to voluntarily take that into their body."

The toxic ingredients include formaldehyde, methanol (used in antifreeze), ethyl alcohol, and other solvents.

"Formaldehyde is used to embalm human bodies that are dead," Goecking said. "And I sure wouldn't want to put that into my live human body."

Embalming fluid has more than a dozen known street names, including Amp, Crazy Eddie, Purple Rain, Wack, and Wet.

The box stolen from Brooks Sterling & Garrett is worth a couple of hundred dollars. The funeral home says they have fixed their alarm system and will take extra steps to secure its embalming fluids.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, embalming fluid can also cause cancer, heart attack, and kidney damage.

Julie Tam, reporting.