Churches targeted by copper thieves

Tue, 06/24/2008 - 4:16pm
By: Ben Nelms

Churches, guard your air conditioning units. Thieves are targeting commonplace items around homes, churches and businesses to resell for scrap metal.

The high cost of copper is likely the reason for the most expensive metal theft to date in 2008 here in Fayette County.

Liberty Baptist Church in north Fayette was hit June 12 with the theft of components of 15 air conditioning units and a repair or replacement cost of approximately $40,000. Law enforcement agencies around the county report numerous thefts of copper and other recyclable materials in recent months.

Sheriff’s deputies at the scene of the theft at Liberty Baptist Church on Ga. Highway 314 said power to the air conditioning units had been disconnected and the internal components removed. The theft had occurred sometime between 10 p.m. on June 11 and 7:30 a.m. on June 12.

The outer casings, fans and some copper pipes were left behind by thieves, according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tommy Pope.

A church representative at the scene estimated the loss at $60,000, though Pope said more recent replacement estimates totaled $40,000.

Other thefts in unincorporated Fayette County occurred in April and June. Thieves stole an air conditioner at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church on Kirkley Road two days before the Liberty Baptist theft. On April 29, a catalytic converter on a van valued at $400 and belonging to The Rock Baptist Church on Sandy Creek Road was stolen.

Fayetteville Police report five cases of copper theft since the beginning of the year. Public Information Officer Steve Crawshaw said the city experienced nearly one theft per month with thefts totaling $4,760.

Thefts of copper piping occurred at a home under construction in January and at another in February. The thefts totaled approximately $775, Crawshaw said.

The theft of an air conditioning unit at another home under construction in April resulted in a loss of $1,785, he said.

Thieves turned to two businesses in May and June, said Crawshaw, when approximately $2,200 in brass and copper fittings were stolen.

Tyrone Police report five cases of copper theft and two cases of theft of catalytic converters this year. Thefts of copper occurred in May and June, with four incidents involving churches.

Spokesperson Alicia Batts said air conditioning units at Hopewell United Methodist Church were stripped and copper wire removed, a loss estimated at $24,000.

Similar incidents occurred at Living Proof Church and New Heritage Church, with damage placed at a combined total of $14,500, while another wiring theft from a building under construction at Dogwood Baptist Church resulted in a loss estimated at $3,761.

Batts said copper pipe was also stolen from a home under construction, with losses estimated at $100.

Tyrone also had two thefts of catalytic converters in April and May, both occurring on Ga. Highway 74 at New Heritage Church. The converters were stolen from two church vehicles, resulting in losses of approximately $700.

Peachtree City Police also reported a recent incident of copper theft. The theft occurred approximately one month ago at the Georgia Power substation off MacDuff Parkway, according to Peachtree City Police spokesperson Rosanna Dove. Approximately $2,000 worth of copper wire was stolen, she said.

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Submitted by kikenbutt on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 8:05pm.

that the crackling noise sometimes on my Bellsouth land line is from the copper wiring being stolen around here? Someone actually advised me about Bellsouth being hit and it will affect the phone lines. I didn't really believe them. Anyone out there know about this? Or do I have another issue?

Submitted by KCW56 on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 5:01pm.

for reporting the crime going on around here! I believe the catalytic converters getting stolen all around town could very easily make its own story. But, I’ll take it.

Would it have helped these church’s to have more officers patrolling at night? I wonder how long it takes to steel air conditioners, such as the amount stolen from Liberty Baptist. Hmm!

When are you going to report the Kosovo incident?

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 6:52pm.

And for $300 you can see who takes your AC unit the next morning and have them arrested. We have cammeras on all our buildings and house and have caught and prosecuted two predators already.

Get cameras, hook them up to your TV or computer and feel safe.

Submitted by sageadvice on Wed, 06/25/2008 - 6:35am.

The $300 is just the beginning of the cost!
Installation costs, regular maintenance, replacing and repairing when damaged, repairing when not functioning, paying someone to check them and look at film, etc.
No one already employed would do any more--would require another department.

ptctaxpayer's picture
Submitted by ptctaxpayer on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 7:58pm.

That is one of stupidest quotes I have ever read on this site---- that surveillance cameras deter criminals. No wonder you got sent to the showers.

Give you a good example---- the jailbreak here in Fayette. Playing
basketball the perps knocked out the camera and escaped over the yard fence the next day. That story did have a happy ending. BJ picked up the escapees in PC Beach and got a little SO R&R at the Beach and Pineapple Willy's.

Wanna deter crime? Lights, dogs and weapons. You and your hubby enjoy your cameras.

Submitted by skyspy on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 10:07pm.

I know one buisness owner and one homeowner who have used them, and the cops caught the bad guys or teens. They do hold up in court.

Definitly better than staying up all night.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Tue, 06/24/2008 - 8:10pm.

I believe mudcat said that cameras help catch criminals. That would be more effective than staying up all night with the lights on, gun in hand, with the dogs barking, eating, and pooping.

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