SUV used in crime spree was stolen from church parking lot
The black Chevrolet Tahoe, which was found burned Wednesday on Baxter Road, was stolen at about 12:30 p.m. from St. Andrew Kim Parish on the corner of 72nd Avenue and Lake Otis Parkway while people were leaving morning Mass.
"One of my parish members realized they didn't have a vehicle," parishioner Sun Bruce said. "We wanted to go home and realized her vehicle is missing."
The vehicle is registered to Sung Hee Bae. She tried calling her husband, thinking he came and picked up the SUV, but that was not the case.
"He told her he didn't have it," Bruce said. "She didn't know where to locate it. She asked people around the church if anyone saw it. That's when I called the police."
Bae didn't realize her vehicle was missing until an hour and a half after Mass ended. Surveillance video showed a pickup truck bringing the thieves to the scene.
"On Sundays we have a lunch after Mass and some meetings," said Father Byung Chan Kim. "So Bae didn't find out here vehicle was missing right away. We checked out video and saw what happened."
Over the past year, about half a dozen vehicles have been vandalized and broken into on church property. Crime in the area has increased so drastically that the parish installed eight cameras three years ago -- then upgraded them to high-definition models in the past six months.
"How many times at this church has our brother or sister lost a car?" parishioner Myong Dulhberg said. "I'm scared all the time; we are parking on this side, not that side."
"This is not the first time that something has been broken into and her vehicle," Bruce said. "This is the second time. The first time happened at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church."
At a place where many people devote their time to worship, thieves are preying on unattended parking lots.
"I'm not sure what to do now," Kim said. "We may have to hire a security guard."
The truck used in the Tahoe heist had also reported stolen, but is believed to have been recovered. Anyone with information about the car thefts or armed robberies are asked to call police at 311.
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