Copper Thieves Target Green Country Churches
By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
ROGERS COUNTY -- Churches and businesses in six nearby counties are being hit hard by thieves wanting copper. One church alone had 11 units stolen recently.
Not only is stealing from a church just low down, the thieves are making only a few bucks off thefts that are costing churches thousands of dollars.
They're doing it for the copper to sell at scrap yards, even though the price isn't even that high right now.
"They completely stripped it all down," said Pastor Casey Warford of Liberty Freewill Baptist Church in Rogers County.
Pastor Casey Warford was as shocked as his congregation when they realized two air conditioning units had been stolen, leaving nothing behind but the concrete pads.
That wasn't even the worst of it - the thieves also pulled the disconnects off the wall and took everything but the compressors.
"Everyone is pretty much disgusted, you know," said Pastor Warford. "It's bad enough to get robbed, have something stolen, but, seems even worse to steal it from a church."
Liberty Freewill Baptist is the fourth church hit in Rogers County, and it's also happening in Wagoner, Tulsa, Washington, Pawnee and Osage counties.
It's a terrible financial loss for churches who have seen need for help go up and donations go down. And, the thieves don't exactly get rich.
All this damage and theft, for what investigators say probably only made the thieves $30-40 for all of it. It cost the church $20,000.
Rogers County deputies are doing more patrols, but they ask all citizens who see vehicles at churches after hours to report it.
"It would be no greater joy for a member of the Rogers County Sheriff's Department than to put their hands on some thug stealing from a church," said Sheriff Scott Walton, Rogers County.
Pastors say the thefts not only hurt financially, but, spiritually, since their purpose is to help people in need. Those people don't need to come and take.
Does it make Pastor Casey Warford angry?
"Honestly, yes," said the pastor of Liberty Freewill Baptist Church. "One thing I've told people: I may be the pastor, but I'm also a man and it's a violation - and I hope the cops catch ‘em. I'm glad I'm not God, because He would do a better job of dealing with them than I would."
Two men from Kansas City are in the Rogers County jail right now, caught stealing three rolls of copper wire from the railroad, but investigators don't think they've been hitting the churches.
People who know anything about these air conditioning thefts should call the Rogers County Sheriff's Office tip line at 918-341-3620.