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Thieves steal parts from Metro East church vans days before kids' trip

Next weekend the church planned on using the van to get the kids to a day camp.

COLLINSVILLE, Ill — Who would steal from a church?

That's what people in the Metro East are asking after a church's van was stripped of its parts.

"Desperate people do desperate things," said Pastor Ron Habermehl.

Several days ago, Habermehl said thieves came not to repent, but to steal valuable parts from the cars in his church's lot.

"I went to get it fixed, and they said 'the reason why it's loud is because someone stole your catalytic converter.' So then I thought, 'well if they stole that one, maybe they stole the one off the bus that's been donated to us,'" said Habermehl.

In most cases, even criminals have a code. But in this case, Habermehl tells 5 On Your Side that not only did they steal from a church, but they probably went through great lengths to do it. Because they didn't just go under the hood -- they went underneath the bus.

"The catalytic converter is underneath there, right in the center," Habermehl said. "So they crawled underneath with a saw, I guess, because it was a clean cut."

Ron is the pastor at the Alpha and Omega Church in State Park. He says the thieves could not have picked a worse time to strike, because next weekend the church planned on using the van to get the kids to a day camp.

"The kids earn this right to go… because they have to show up on time, behave themselves, and they participate and they get points. At the end of the season, the ones who have points get to go to camp." 

Repairing the van will cost the church $700. Money like that doesn't come easy to a place that's free for everyone.

"Every time something happens, you know God is even bigger. So he turns it around. So like I said, we just went in and prayed for the people and said 'Lord, just bless him.'"

Habermehl expects repairs on the bus that was stripped to cost even more, and he's hoping for a miracle to get the kids to camp on time.

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