Lincolnton man charged with stealing church bus, breaking in to relative’s home

The bus was stolen during a recent winter storm.
James Thomas Thatcher
James Thomas Thatcher(Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office)
Published: Jan. 22, 2022 at 1:41 PM EST
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LINCOLNTON, N.C. (WBTV) - A Lincolnton man has been arrested for the theft of a church bus on Jan. 19, and the break-in and larceny at a relative’s house in Sept. 2021.

Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy M. Ginther was called to the Salem Baptist Church on Jan. 19 for the theft of the church bus. The officer was also told the vehicle had been recovered by the North Carolina Highway Patrol on Wentz Road, just off Buffalo Shoals Road in Catawba County.

Church officials said the bus was last known secure under a metal carport on church property on Jan. 13.

Each side has been spray-painted with black spray paint to conceal “Salem Baptist Church” written on all sides of the van.

Deputy Ginther met with church members, Catawba County Sheriff’s deputies and the State Highway Patrol at the scene to process the vehicle. The officer collected several items of evidence from the scene and one piece of evidence led to James Thomas Thatcher, 27, of Lincolnton.

Thatcher was arrested on Jan. 21, and during an interview with Detective J. Link, confessed to stealing the church bus during the snowstorm on Jan. 13. He also confessed to break-in of a family member’s home in September and was served with a true bill of indictment in connection with that incident.

Thatcher was taken before a Lincoln County magistrate and was ordered held in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a total bond of $25,000 secured.

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