NC crime spree hits Cherokee Co. churches

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GAFFNEY, SC (WSPA) – Gaffney police are warning churches of a crime spree that’s spreading from North Carolina into the Palmetto state.

“Who in their right might would go on church grounds and do that – broad daylight?” said Antioch Kingdom Building Ministries Trustee Torrey Leach. 

He said he noticed their church van was missing it’s catalytic converter Monday, when he cranked up the ignition.  

“It sounded like two trucks – two diesel trucks,” he recalled.  

Surveillance video caught the thieves and their red Dodge Durango in broad daylight on Sunday about two hours after Leach said the van was used to drop off church members. 

“Sure enough it was like two hours after service that they did this,” said Leach. 

And, they were not alone. 

A five minute ride from their Serene Drive location, a van outside Draytonville Baptist Church was hit that same day.

Cherokee County Sheriff Steve Mueller said it looks like the same person and vehicle.

Gaffney police want to get the word out, and their Facebook post has hundreds of shares. 

“There’s been a number of them in Cleveland County, North Carolina and surrounding counties,” said Gaffney Police Chief Chris Skinner. 

The Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office told WTBV that seven churches reported the same thing.

Surveillance video from one church in shelby shows two thieves sliding under vans for the catalytic converters.

Thieves across several counties continue to target church vans for catalytic converters

A Gaffney mechanic showed our 7News crew a similar catalytic converter saying thieves can steal them in minutes and sell them for hundreds of dollars at scrap yards, especially if the converter contains platinum. 

“We just wanna warn the churches that they’re doing it, keep an eye on their vehicles, make sure everything’s good. If you’ve got cameras, put them on your vehicles,” said Chief Skinner. 

Leach encourages fellow churches to also make sure their properties have surveillance cameras since places of worship are being targeted.

 “It kinda hurts because that tells me people got no respect not only for the church but for people in general no more, you know,” said Leach. 

Gaffney police advises churches check their vans to make sure they haven’t already been hit, and report that to police if that happens.
 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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