By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – Catalytic converter thefts are at an all-time high in Denver. Hundreds of car owners have turned their keys, only to hear the unmistakable, loud roaring. Thieves are more brazen than ever, recently targeting a church parking lot. Reverend Jim Chapman at Christ’s Body Ministries has joined the long victim list of catalytic converter thefts.

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“It’s a Ford Econoline van and we were so excited about it. It’s got all of our logos and writings on both sides. How can you miss ‘Christ’s Body’? I think the assumption most people would make is that it belongs to a church,” said Reverend Jim Chapman, Pastor & CEO, Christ’s Body Ministries.

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Christ’s Body Ministries works around the clock to help people experiencing homelessness, but the pastor says it’s possible people from a nearby camp committed the crime.

Surveillance video shows two people stealing the catalytic converter from the church’s van overnight Saturday.

(credit: CBS)

It took the thieves less than three minutes.

(credit: CBS)

Catalytic converters help control exhaust emission in vehicles. You won’t know it’s gone, until you start your car.

“It just made a loud noise. It was like a muffler noise. I thought it was breaking down,” said Jerry, CBM’s operations manager.

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Thieves aren’t looking to sell the actual car part, but they know its earning potential. Precious metals, like platinum, in catalytic converters can be worth over $100 at scrap yards.

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It’s an expensive repair, but the church is more upset over what the two thieves stole from others.

“It’s a huge vehicle that we use for a lot of outreach work we do with the homeless,” said Chapman. “We need to get this back into play again as soon as we can.”

The van pulls the church’s mobile shower and laundry trailer around the city. The longer it sits in an auto shop, the longer people miss out on hygiene. Hot showers on the street are priceless, but to these thieves, they’re not worth more than precious metals inside cats.

And it’s clear, no vehicle is off-limits.

“We’re bummed about this and disappointed that somebody would come into this lot and cut a catalytic converter off of a van that’s clearly for a church and an organization that helps the homeless,” said Chapman.

The van being gone puts a dent in their work, but volunteers from the church have still been out providing resources on foot. The church hopes surveillance video can help police identify who did this, so they can’t victimize anyone else.

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At the end of the day, the pastor still says he forgives them.

Tori Mason