Wilmette, News

UPDATE: Church bus recovered in Chicago alley, returned the next day

The personalization paid off.

Thanks to a donation, and after years of renting a vehicle, the Winnetka Covenant Church was finally able to purchase a bus in July to transport its seniors to and from the Wilmette church. The new vehicle had an added bonus: the church’s name, address and phone number painted along its side.

The identifiers already came in handy on Aug. 23, when the church received a call.

“It was from a concerned citizen who said our bus was parked in an alley for about two weeks,” said Jan Christianson, the church’s pastor of congregational life.

As previously reported by The Record, Winnetka Covenant Church, 1200 Hibbard Road in Wilmette, was broken into on Aug. 11. Windows of the building were shattered to gain entry, and keys to the new bus were taken from an interior office and used to steal the bus, according to Wilmette police information.

Two weeks later, Winnetka Covenant Church received the phone call, and Chicago police recovered the vehicle in the Humboldt Park community, said Michael Robinson, a commander with the Wilmette Police Department

“It was there for a couple days and parked near a church, so they people may have thought it was (the church’s),” Robinson said.

A day later, on Aug. 24, the bus was back in Winnetka Covenant Church’s parking lot, Christianson said.

“Oh my gosh, I didn’t think we’d ever see that bus agin,” she said. ” … It’s a real joy to have. We are keeping an eye on it and taking precautions so we are never in that situation again. We are very, very grateful.”

Christianson said having the bus back in time for expanded fall programming was especially nice.

“It’s a little more of a normal year and we have more going on than last fall,” she said. “To be able to get seniors to programs and gatherings is really important.” 

The bus was purchased in July as a result of a donation from a congregation member, and it is used to transport seniors from Northbrook Covenant Living to church services, Christianson previously told The Record.

Robinson said the bus was processed for evidence and then returned to the church in “relatively good condition.” Police are awaiting results of the processing and the theft is still under investigation.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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