JEFFERSON COUNTY, MO (KPLR) - Thieves are continuing to target Jefferson County churches. FOX 2 first reported seven of these thefts last week. Now, more are being discovered.
“They’re taking the covering off the air conditioning unit, and taking the condenser coils,” explains Captain Ron Arnhart with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
In some cases, thieves snatched the entire a/c unit. Arnhart believes the stolen copper is sold for scrap: “They’re cutting lines, so they’re causing more damage than what they’re getting in copper. Which again is unfortunate, because this time of year, a lot of churches are out trying to help the community, and now they have the extra expense of making repairs.”
After watching News11’s first story on these thefts, a senior trustee of First Baptist Church in House Springs decided to check their a/c units this past Sunday. That’s when he discovered that two of them, along the back of the building, had been hit. The units damaged, copper stolen.
Just minutes away on Missouri Highway 30, thieves stole copper coils from Hillside Presbyterian. Also in Jefferson County, Byrnes Mill and Herculaneum reported similar thefts.
Why are air conditioners being stolen from churches? Arnhart believes it’s a crime of opportunity: “I think probably with churches, people know when people are going to be there, and when they’re not.”
Arnhart says several businesses and vacant homes have been hit as well. Investigators have no leads at this point, and are passing around a flier to area churches, warning them of the recent thefts.
If you have any information, contact the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department at 636-797-9999.