A Knox County pastor has a big message for copper thieves.
They've hit his church four times in the past two weeks, and the pastor says this drain on the church's resources is costing more than money.
Pastor David Lord says the copper thieves took three downspouts the first time. But in the two weeks since, that number has increased to 16.
When Pastor Lord first came to Bookwalter United Methodist Church, one of the first things he noticed were the copper downspouts hugging the building.
He also knew they could be a target for thieves.
"We knew they'd be gone, but we didn't know when. But now we know," said Lord.
You can still see black spots where the spouts used to be, and parts of some of those torn off. However, that's just the beginning of another problem
"I'm sure the water will run down the walls so we'll get it taken care of as soon as we can," said Lord.
He is already taking steps to stop more thefts.
Pastor Lord says he has already bent this one to prevent it from being stolen as well.
Despite what's happening here, Knoxville Police tells us copper thefts are down across the city.
They say it is mostly because of an ordinance forcing sellers to wait five days before they get paid for the goods. So some are targeting other metals.
"They're still stealing aluminum, steel, any type of metal," said Darrell DeBusk with the Knoxville Police Department.
But for Pastor Lord, the message is simple.
He posted a sign in front of his church, which says, "Thief who stole our copper downspouts, we forgive you."
If you have any information about the thefts, please contact the Knoxville Police Department.
The copper downspouts stood along the building since the church was built, more than 45 years ago.
Pastor Lord says they will likely replace them with aluminum.
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