Catalytic converter thief strikes churchgoers - KCTV5

Catalytic converter thief strikes churchgoers

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A thief apparently had no soul and targeted churchgoers, victims say.

Stacey Thomas II was arrested on Palm Sunday while vandalizing cars parked in a church parking lot, police said.

Thomas allegedly was stealing catalytic convertors from vehicles. Detectives say Thomas liked to target churches. He would wait until the lot was full and the pews filled before striking, detectives said.

"He knew what he was doing," said Wende Dawkins, who teaches at a south Kansas City church.

She left work and immediately noticed someone had tampered with her sport utility vehicle.

"I started the car up. And it was loud, very loud. I immediately knew something wasn't right," Dawkins said."It's very disappointing. It's a place of comfort, and people probably let their guard down. And he's taking it for granted."

Thomas struck at numerous churches and stole from more than two dozen people, police said.

Kansas City Police Detective Robert Deyaeghere said they were able to get a partial license plate after one of Thomas' sprees. This led to putting Thomas under surveillance, and detectives tracked him to a body shop where he sold a half dozen convertors.

Watching from the roof of a fire station, police observed Thomas stealing convertors at a church at 34th Street and The Paseo. That's when detectives made their move.

"Once the police car entered the parking lot, he attempted to flee and crashed into a police car," Deyaeghere said. "He was able to get out onto The Paseo, and there was a chase, which ended when he lost control of his vehicle and crashed into Troost Lake."

Inside his vehicle, police found stolen convertors, tools for removing the convertors and a loaded handgun, according to court documents. Thomas allegedly told police that he had been stealing for six weeks and said he worked alone, according to court documents.

Thomas faces four felonies, including assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and tampering with a motor vehicle.

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