Tuscaloosa County church out thousands of dollars following theft

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The search is on for a thief who stole parts off a church van in Tuscaloosa County. The common crime is causing the church and its members a big headache.

Taylorville Baptist Church will be forced to put up at least $1,000 dollars to replace the stolen parts. Investigators believed the thief stole a catalytic converter, selling the precious metal inside for scrap.

"We think you can see a little bit of a blue jacket of somebody that comes up between the vans," Ministry Assistant Traci Jackson said.

The tiny movement caught on camera is the only clue as to who stole the parts. When the vehicle would not start, a pastor discovered the catalytic converter missing.

"You can see the actual marks from where it was sawed off," Jackson said.

The van is used to pick up elderly shut-ins and children for services.

"It's disturbing that someone would steal from a church in broad daylight. It was before we came to work, but it's still close enough to the time frame of the work day that we could have been here," Jackson said.

The part contains valuable metal. It is necessary to operate a vehicle, without it, you won't be going anywhere.

Jimmy Hartley owns a car repair shop. It's not the first time he has seen a crime like this.

"I've noticed, just being in this business, we see them get stolen off of vehicles. We've done some church buses before," Hartley said, "They tend to pick the higher vehicles so they can crawl up under there."

Hartley said the part can be stolen in less than one minute and sold f or up to $500. Some vehicles have more than one converter.

Jackson said the crime would not ruin the congregation's Christmas cheer.

"We keep doing what God has called us to do. We keep going and spreading the message of the gospel as much as we can with the tools we have," Jackson said, "We're thankful God has provided and we do have an extra church van... we'll just rely on that until we can get the damaged one fixed."

The church expected to have the bus fixed by the weekend.

The Sheriff's Office is still looking for the person responsible. If you know anything that can help, you are asked to give them a call immediately.

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