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DENVER -- A National Cemetery is one of the last places where you would expect that a car would be stolen.
Colorado Air National Guardsman John Moreland certainly thought that, but not anymore.
He was heading up the Honor Guard for a retired Air Force Colonel's burial service on Friday, when a thief stole his 2012 Honda Pilot , which had been parked 100 to 200 yards away from Shelter C, where the service took place.
"I was just absolutely shocked," Moreland said. "The thought that someone would seek to do harm, at a cemetery first of all, but then at a National Cemetery, the place where we bury our nation's fallen heroes...is just unthinkable."
Moreland, who is also the Senior Pastor at Denver Christian Bible Church, said his cell phone, laptop, brand new uniforms, golf clubs, and a debit card belonging to the church, were in the car when it was stolen.
"Hundreds of sermons were on the laptop," he said. "Thank God I have them backed up on the cloud."
Moreland said he'd left the car running briefly, to keep it cool in the summer sun, and because he was only going to be at the shelter for a few minutes, he would then be off to the next site.
Instead of getting angry, he said he immediately tried to think how he could mitigate the damage.
"I called police, I called the insurance company and I called the bank," he said. "They (thief or thieves) had already gassed up a vehicle several times, had been to a department store and had washed the car."
"They not only came to a place, which is sacred ground for our nation, but they took a debit card that belongs to our church and did whatever they wanted with it," he said. "It's just unbelievable."
Uptick in Auto Thefts
Moreland said police told him there has been an uptick in auto thefts recently and that gang initiation season has begun.
"They said there have been reports of items being stolen from cars at the cemetery, but this was the first actual auto theft," he said.
A Denver Police Department spokeswoman told Denver7 she couldn't access data about this case over the weekend.
Moreland said next time, he will make sure he has his keys with him during a service.
The pastor said his Honda Pilot, which was off-white in color, was the first car he had good feelings about.
"I liked that car a lot," he said. "I waited a long time to buy it, tried to do my due diligence and saved for it, and it was the first time I felt I made a good car deal."
He said he'd like to get it back.
Message for Thief
When asked if he had a message for the thief, Moreland replied, "I'd tell him, 'look in the mirror and think long and hard about how your actions affect the lives of real people. To you, this was just an opportunity. To us, we are being deprived of something that we've worked for, something that helps to facilitate our life, and that's no small thing.'"
Moreland said he's speaking out about what happened, because he wants to pressure the thief into returning his car and the personal items inside, including the $400 worth of uniforms.
"And now," he said, 'I've got to take precautions about the future. Things I probably should have thought about but hadn't before. Now I've got to think about and guard against those things."