ASHLAND An Ashland church’s bus is out of commission after its catalytic converter was stolen.

On Tuesday morning, a person with the South Ashland Methodist Church reported the theft to police after he started the 2009 Ford bus and was “startled by how loud it was,” according to a city police report. The witness told an officer the bus had been sitting in the church’s parking lot for about two weeks since it was last used.

Ashland Police are still awaiting surveillance footage from the church, according to the report. The estimated cost to replace the part is $300, according to the police report.  

A catalytic converter is a part of the exhaust system that filters toxic emissions before they enter the muffler. Many catalytic converters contain platinum, which make them valuable on the scrap metal market.

The Rev. Keith Katterheinrich said members of the church are “obviously frustrated” because the bus is used for trips.

“We have a van to transport people, but the bus can haul luggage for our trips. We can’t substitute the van for the bus,” Katterheinrich said. “This is a hindrance to our ministry.” 

This wasn’t the first time someone has vandalized with the church vehicles either, according to the pastor. He said another time someone attempted to cut the catalytic converter off the church van, but the person was unsuccessful. Like the Jan. 28 case, a driver started the van and noticed it was loud, Katterheinrich said. A member of the church, who is a welder, patched up the hole in the exhaust and the van was back on the road, he said.

Chief Todd Kelley, of the Ashland Police Department, said catatytic converter thefts are pretty sporadic, fluctuating based on the scrap value. Lately, the chief said his department hasn’t been seeing too many of them.

“If we see more than one in a particular part of town, it tends to raise our eyebrows,” Kelley said. “I don’t want to speculate on the specifics of this case, but it looks more like a crime of opportunity than a pattern.” 

Like cataytlic converter thefts, church thefts also ebb and flow, according to the chief. The chief said he hasn’t been seeing too many of those either.

“Besides this, I can’t think of anything recent,” Kelley said. “Churches in the city don’t get hit as hard as out in the rural areas because they’re in residential areas. People can see and hear a break-in or something of that nature.”

The pastor said the theft “shows where we’re at in the community.” 

“If you’re in a place where you’re stealing a cataytlic converter from a church van, there is something wrong,” Katterheinrich said.

The Ashland Police Department Silent Witness tip line is at (606) 385-3127. Online tips can also be submitted at http://www.ashlandky.gov/departments/police/silent_witness.php.

(606) 326-2653 |

henry@dailyindependent.com

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