Six Indicted In Church Van Theft Case

| October 7, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two dozen vans vanished within a matter of weeks. More than half of the vans were stolen from churches, and now six people have been indicted in connection with the crimes.

At the Hill Street Christian Church, the scene still hasn't been touched.

"Our gate had been taken apart, the glass had been broken out of the van and it was gone," said Reverend Syvoskia Bray, the pastor at the church.

Some would say it was just an old Dodge passenger van. But for Hill Street Christian, it was crucial to the cause.

"We have members here — they depend on us picking them up to come to church," Bray said.

And for a small congregation, a van is a big purchase.

"We really do need a van. We've looked around but we just haven't had the finances to meet what's out there," Bray said. "We're just kind of working together as a family, picking them up and getting them here. That's all we can do right now."

Police said the same group that drove off with Hill Street Christian's van also stole vehicles from a dozen other churches — all older-model Dodge vans.

"To me, that's just stooping pretty low," Bray said.

Police said a group of six criminals is responsible. On Wednesday, each one was indicted for receiving stolen property. One suspect is facing 19 counts, and another is facing 22 counts.

Police said the group would steal the vans and take them to ISA Recycling, where they were scrapped for $400 to $500 each.

Police said the group also targeted several day cares.

The victims said they're glad the group has been arrested.

"I think about the many other churches and day care centers that have been touched as a result of this, so I think justice has to prevail," Bray said.

And Bray said she hopes the power of the law will teach the suspects to respect the power of the church.

"Having a soft and compassionate heart, I hope that they may come to know who the higher power is," Bray said.

Hill Street Christian Church is still looking for a van, and they're asking for help from the community. Bray said it doesn't matter how old it is or how many miles it has on it — they just need a replacement van.

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