Local News

Thieves cut catalytic converters from Johnston church vans

Posted December 14, 2017 6:21 p.m. EST

— Johnston County deputies are on the lookout for thieves who stole catalytic converters from several church vehicles.

Four vehicles at three churches were hit in the last two weeks, and five converters were reported stolen from Kenneth's Auto Sales in Benson on Dec. 4.

"At first, I was like, 'Oh my goodness, one more frustration right here at Christmas.' But I don't know, you kind of have to roll with the punches no matter what happens," said Rev. Michael Hall, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church, on N.C. Highway 242 near Benson.

Someone sawed the catalytic converter off the exhaust pipe of the church's van last weekend.

"I don't think I was really angry about it. I mean, it's more frustration than anything," Hall said.

Down the road, Calvary Baptist Church also lost a catalytic converter to thieves over the weekend. Piney Grove Chapel Baptist Church in Angier had converters stolen from its church bus and a van on Nov. 30.

Catalytic converters help reduce emissions from vehicles, and they contain small amounts of precious metals, such as platinum. Authorities said thieves try to sell the devices to salvage yards to get the money from the metals that can be stripped out of them.

State law prohibits a scrap metal yard from buying standalone catalytic converters, said Capt. Jeff Caldwell of the Johnston County Sheriff's Office. His detectives have been checking with salvage yards in the area, but he said they have not identified any suspects.

Rev. Timmy Blair, pastor of Piney Grove Chapel Baptist, said that, if people need the money, they could have asked the church for assistance. The thefts come at a busy time of year, when the church vehicles are in high demand, he added.

Hall said he has already forgiven the thieves and would be delighted for them to come to church.

"We need to forgive others," he said "Even before we ask for an apology, even before they apologize, we need to have forgiveness in our hearts.

"We can't condone what he did, but we can certainly still love him, and hopefully, if there's some extenuating circumstances that we could help him with, we could take it a step further and love our neighbor as ourselves."

Replacing the devices can cost more than $1,200, and the churches said they hope insurance can defray some of the cost.