US, Colorado: A man who was working as an embalmer says he stole from the dead in order to support his family.

Adrian Kline, 43, of Brighton, is accused of removing gold crowns from the teeth of dead people and then selling them. He turned himself in last Friday.

Police believe Kline may have recovered or extracted hundreds of teeth from the deceased or the deceased's remains.

After a body is cremated, any metal - including dental work - is usually removed from the remains to be recycled. Kline claims he only took the gold crowns that were going to be thrown away at the funeral homes, but one funeral home manager in Brighton said Kline was fired after jewelry belonging to a deceased man went missing.

Police believe Kline sifted through the cremated remains to obtain the precious metal. The earliest reports date back to April 2011. Police began their investigation in Sept. 2011.

Pat Tabor, manager of Tabor Rice Funeral Home, told CBS4 he fired Kline three months after he had been hired.

"I was always told 'you treat everybody like it was your grandma or grandpa' and I do that and - to me - anytime you violate that, that's wrong,'" said Tabor.

Police say they first learned of the case when they got a tip from a pawn shop in Longmont. They say Kline went to EZ Pawn several times to get cash for gold fillings and that the manager called police after the transactions began to feel "creepy."

"The second time he came in they started to get suspicious of the story," Jeff Satur with Longmont police said.

Authorities responded to EZ Pawn and recovered dozens of crowns there, which were in a bag. They also found other fillings at other pawn shops in the area, including at Classic Gold Jewelers.

"I bought about 20 teeth from him the first time and he was back about a week later and had some more," pawn shop owner Ted Willis said.

Police say Kline told them he fell on hard times while trying to support his wife and his 8 children. He is under indictment for falsifying information to a pawn broker, which is a felony. He has since bonded out of jail.

Police believe Kline cashed in $4,200 worth of gold that he had extracted from teeth belonging to the deceased. If convicted on all charges he could be sentenced to prison for 21 years.

One mortician said families rarely request the precious metals from their deceased loved ones because the payoff from the amount of work to extract or find the gold crowns is very little.

Police said they don't know who the teeth belong to.

"We haven't determined that and one of the big reasons is that most of the teeth that we initially recovered were from cremation," Satur said.

Police have not indicated that Kline took any gold teeth that were requested by the family. Investigators said the teeth Kline recovered or extracted were damaged in the process and it would be very difficult and in many cases impossible to determine which teeth belonged to each victim.