MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Three people are behind bars after they were accused of trying to steal the catalytic converter from a church van in Blount County and being caught by a church member.
When members of OutReach Church went to start the church’s van earlier last week, they didn’t know they had stumbled upon a crime in their own backyard.
“The battery was dead so we charged the battery up,” a church member who wished to remain anonymous told News 19’s sister station WATE. “On Thursday, one of our other members thought he would check and see if the van would start again. When he did the van was very loud and he realized something was wrong.”
A quick look under the vehicle revealed the van’s pipes had been nearly cut in a half.
“This prompted us to look at the cameras and we found during the night that some individuals had come in and had attempted to take the catalytic converter,” the church member explained.
But the suspects’ failed attempt gave the church an opportunity.
“That is why we wound up being able to keep a more watchful eye the second night,” the church member told WATE.
As luck would have it, the criminals came back. Little did they know, they were being watched and deputies were on their way.
“They came out and captured the individuals,” the church member said. “The suspects were there and they made the arrest there.”
John William Hinkle, Jonathan Hans Wellman, and Hannah Marie Handmacher were all arrested at the scene. Although glad the suspects were apprehended, the church hopes the situation points the accused criminals in the right direction.
“Maybe this is the time when they get their lives turned around and find their place and come to a close walk with Christ,” the church member told WATE.
During a conversation with deputies, one of the suspects said they had hoped to steal the converter for money. The three suspects now face burglary charges.