Thieves Steal Copper From Church

By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief
By: Stephen McLamb, Bureau Chief

Seymour, Blount County (WVLT) - Two places of worship in Blount County were hit Wednesday night where the condensers from air conditioning units were taken believed to be for the salvageable copper.

Church officials say they anticipate the thieves will get at most $100 in their effort but it will cost the church more than $10,000 to fix.

But what's especially surprising for church members is that thieves would steal from God's house.

"I don't know what an air conditioner is supposed to look like inside but I was fairly certain not like that,” Cedar Grove Baptist Church secretary Vivian Cunningham quickly realized Wednesday when she came to work why the church's air conditioner units looked like they did. "I first thought of the copper because I knew that was a popular item."

It wasn't just two condenser cores.

"They were low enough to take the copper lines off of the gas tanks that feed the church and even jerk them out all the way to the church,” says Cedar Grove Deacon Jack Carpenter.

The AC unit at Eusebia Presbyterian church was also hit.

Church members are a little surprised it could happen at a place where people are urged not to steal.

"That's one of our ten commandments and they didn't have it in their mind when they did that,” says Carpenter.

Carpenter estimates it will cost in excess of ten thousand dollars to repair the damage he feels was just for drug money. "I'd say they would be lucky to get a hundred dollars of what they got, you know, for salvage."

But the church is a place for repentance and finding the fear of God, something Carpenter hopes will happen in the hearts of those who came to the church to steal. "I would have double fear if I did it because I'd be afraid I'd wreck going to the salvage place to sell the stuff."

The Blount County Sheriff's Department has assigned two investigators to the case and right now have no suspects.

Because copper theft is a growing problem, they urge people with isolated buildings like country churches to pay special attention to them and call authorities if you see anything suspicious.

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