Police Seek Suspects In Theft Of 18 Vans

| July 21, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Police have arrested one person and are looking for four more suspects in connection with the theft of 18 Dodge passenger vans over a six-week period.

Eleven of the vans belong to local churches, and all of them were stolen off church property.

Hill Street Missionary Baptist Church used to have two vans until one of them just disappeared.

"One of the officers called me and said, 'Reverend, I've got some sad news.' I said, 'What's up?' He said, 'Someone just stole our van,'" said the Rev. Gregory Smith, a pastor at Hill Street Missionary Baptist Church. "I said, 'Oh my.' I was really kind of upset."

The van was swiped on June 24. One was stolen from Victory Christian Church on July 2, another from Hill Street Christian Church on July 14. Police said in all, there were 18 Dodge vans stolen from Jefferson County church properties over a span of 42 days.

"It's a sad thing that people will do that, and I'm really sorry. They hit so many churches," Smith said. "My question was, 'What are they doing with them?'"

Police said they have discovered the answer to that question.

"None of them have been recovered as of yet. So we go out to ISA Recycling out on Campground Road and discovered the majority of these vans have been scrapped out there," said Sgt. Marcus Laytham, with the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Police said the suspects would steal the vans and them sell them for scrap.

"They received anywhere from $400 to $500 for each van they took out there," Laytham said.

That's a profit of more than $7,000.

On Friday, police arrested Renita Dudley, 50, and charged her with eight counts of receiving stolen property. They said they're still searching for at least three more suspects. They also said ISA Recycling is part of the investigation.

"We don't know the amount of their culpability," Laytham said.

"It'd be a sad thing for somebody to buy those vans knowing that those vans have been stolen from a church," Smith said.

Hill Street Baptist's van may already have been picked to pieces, but its pastor is pleased with the police work.

WLKY News spoke with the president of ISA Recycling. When asked if the scrapping of 18 very similar Dodge vans at one recycling facility within a six-week period raised any red flags, he responded that every transaction was reported and recorded in detail and in line with the law. But he also said the pattern probably should have been caught by someone, that there has been a change in management at that facility, and that ISA Recycling is taking steps to prevent similar incidents from happening again.



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Category: Church Security

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