After the theft of the catalytic converter, Carney, First drives to Falls Creek at the last minute

Above: A group of campers and leaders from Caney, First, attended Falls Creek Youth Camp. Pastor Jeremy Parham is in the second row, far right.

CANEY (BP)—Car trouble always seems to come at the worst possible time, and that was exactly the case Monday morning for a group of students from Caney, First.

Jeremy Parham, pastor of Caney, First, said he received a call from one of his deacons on Monday morning July 4, telling him that someone had stolen the catalytic converter from the two church vans.

Luke Howard, member of Caddo, Voca, leads the members of Caney, First to Falls Creek.

It was hours before Parham and a group of more than 40 students were supposed to leave for a youth camp at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center.

Rental options are limited in Caney and the parents’ vehicles did not have enough combination seats to carry more than 40 children.

This situation that Caney, First found herself in has become increasingly common. A 2021 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) indicates that catalytic converter thefts have skyrocketed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle’s exhaust system. Its function is to convert dangerous chemicals emitted by the engine into less toxic gases. Thieves target them because of the precious metals they contain. They can be sold on the black market for hundreds of dollars.

The NICB reports that in 2019, there were an average of 282 catalytic converter thefts per month. This number rose to 1,203 in 2020 and continues to rise, according to various reports.

Oklahoma reported that the state has recently become a hotspot for flights, seeing a 44% increase this year compared to the first four months of 2021.

During this report, The Baptist Press spoke with several Southern Baptist pastors (three in Texas and one in Alabama) who confirmed that their churches had had a catalytic converter stolen from one or more of their vehicles during of the past two years.

Replacing a stolen catalytic converter can sometimes take months due to a supply chain issue and often ends up costing over $1,000. Insurance will sometimes, but not always, cover a replacement part. Driving without a converter is illegal in some states.

Thefts are becoming so common that Congress is trying to create legislation to address the problem. Lawmakers introduced the “Auto Recycling Theft Prevention Act” in January.

The law would do several things such as “require new vehicles to affix VIN numbers to catalytic converters, codify federal penalties for theft of the part, and require record keeping for those who buy and sell converters,” NBC reported. News.

The legislation, which included a bipartisan group of co-sponsors, was sent to two committees after it was introduced. Sponsors hope the bill will make it to the House floor.

The NICP says measures to prevent theft include parking vehicles in a secure, locked or alarmed location and installing an anti-theft device that would make cutting the part more difficult.

Another step is to mark the converter with a specific identification number that can be traced back to the vehicle it came from.

Various media outlets are reporting that some police departments across the country have started holding events for citizens to bring in their vehicles for converters to be marked for free in hopes of curbing the wave of thefts.

When it happened at Carney, First, Parham didn’t know how he was going to get his kids to camp. He called his friend Luke Howard near Caddo, Voca. Before long, Howard had brought two of Voca’s vans and helped ferry Parham and the rest of the band to Falls Creek.

The group wasn’t even late. They arrived about the time they originally expected.

Parham told the Baptist Press that this act of kindness reflected the “tight” relationship of the Atoka-Coal Association churches.

“Luke was doing something, and he stopped what he was doing to help us,” Parham said. “He just showed the Christian idea of ​​serving and loving yourself so well in that moment. It was a huge blessing for us. »

Parham said it exemplified the fellowship he regularly experiences in Baptist life.

“We were pretty desperate and I couldn’t believe how quickly he responded,” he said. “If we ever get a phone call from them when they need our help, I hope we are willing and able to do so.

“I find that my local association and the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) as a whole have a real spirit of helping each other. I am very grateful that I do not feel alone in my ministry.

About Yvonne Lozier

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