Shawnee church targeted by thieves


SHAWNEE, Okla. (KFOR) – A van at a Shawnee church has been hit with a double whammy. First, it was hit in a drive-by shooting and last week its catalytic convertor was stolen.

There’s been an uptick in catalytic convertors being sawed off of vehicles and then sold. Shawnee United Pentecostal Church at 1010 East Independence St. is one of the latest victims.

On Friday, the assistant pastor was doing maintenance on their church van. When he turned it on afterwards, it sounded more like a NASCAR race. He looked under the van and saw the catalytic convertor was gone.

Senior Pastor Vance Bowman was very disappointed.

“I just think it’s a sign of our society degrading, getting worse and worse,” he said. “People have no respect. Why would you do harm to someone like that?”

They have no idea who committed the theft.

“Well anytime somebody steals something from you, you just feel violated,” he said. “While it’s not my personal property, it belongs to the church. I just feel like the church had been violated.”

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Shawnee United Pentecostal Church

Thieves are hunting down these valuable car parts more than ever right now. They can be sawed off in minutes and then quickly sold. While the selling price can be around $50 to $250 per convertor, the cost of repair for victims can reach thousands of dollars.

Bowman said they’ll pay the price because their ministry depends on the van.

“It surely makes it convenient that people don’t have to use their own vehicles to go and do church business and when we take the youth group to youth camps, we use it for that,” he explained.

But he’s hesitant to file an insurance claim because their premium is already up after dealing with a drive-by shooting in 2018.

“Someone drove by with a pellet gun or a bb gun or something and shot out several of the windows and actually damaged one of the doors,” he said.

He said there’s no avoiding having to pay up to replace the missing catalytic convertor.

“It’s going to cost us, that’s the bottom line,” he said. “One way or the other, whether we take it to insurance or fix it and repair it out of our general funds, it’s going to cost us.”

Bowman said they’re considering getting surveillance cameras for the church. In the meantime, they may start parking the van at one of their congregation members’ homes.

The Shawnee Police Department is investigating the theft, but has no leads on a suspect at this time

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