Copper thieves hit local church

April 9, 2011 - The congregation at Brown Chapel AME Church is in shock after learning about a robbery that may have happened months ago.

Church members say the copper connection in its air conditioning unit was severed and stolen probably during the winter months when the unit was not being used.

Church trustees say they did not report the robbery to police because they are doubtful anyone will ever be caught.

The missing copper was discovered Friday afternoon. The church wanted the unit checked in preparation for a warm Sunday morning service followed by a celebration of it's praise dancers.

Brown Chapel is expecting between 200 and 300 people to fill the church at 3 p.m. when temperatures could hit in the 80s.

Members say they feel disrespected over losing the copper and this is not the first time it has happened.

"Strangely enough about two and a half years ago they did it then, that's when we put the gate around it," says P. J. Baker. Baker is the church administrative assistant and also serves as a trustee.

There are two AC units, one on each side of the building with a locked fence around them. Baker thinks someone jumped over the fence and removed the cover on the unit to steal the copper.

"I was startled! I could not believe that someone would come and steal from a church," says Baker.

Church trustee Mark Wardlow says it will cost 10,000 dollars to replace the unit.

"Every time we have things going right, something bad goes wrong. With the faith in God that we have, we can work that out," says Wardlow.

The AC unit will not be repaired in time for Sunday's events however the church plans to open all the windows, run fans and pray for cooler weather.

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