Police staked out a north Tulsa church Tuesday evening after it had been the target of air conditioner thefts and said they caught two men stealing copper.
Tulsa Police say investigators were monitoring security cameras at the Greater Grace Church at 1010 East 56th Street North at about 9:30 p.m. when two men approached and began taking one of the units apart.
Thieves hit that one church, three different times.
On a stakeout, two officers were inside the church only a few hours when the thieves showed up again.
The thieves took nine air conditioners from the church on January 10, so the church hired private security, but could only afford it for a few nights. Then, the thieves came back and took two more air conditioners.
That's when Major Tracie Lewis at the Gilcrease Division said enough is enough.
Corporal Tracy Clark and Detective Paula Maker have been working all the copper theft cases in Tulsa for the past two years.
They watched the surveillance cameras and saw the whole thing unfold right in front of their eyes.
"The camera is right on top of them. We could see what they're doing. Once they removed and dismantled the aluminum cage around the evaporating coils and removed the cooper, we called the units in for the apprehension," Clark said.
Patrol officers converged on the church and arrested Jerome Lane, 22, and Jerome King, 18.
Had they made the arrest before the men actually stole the copper, it would've been a misdemeanor vandalism arrest, rather than a felony.
The pastor gave his blessing and hopes this will stop the repeated thefts.
Clark said the thieves have cost the church over $100,000.
All that damage and expense to the church, and what did the thieves get for their trouble? They got about $200 selling the copper for scrap.
Detectives say copper theft is still a huge problem, with 300 cases reported in Tulsa in the past six months, totaling more than a million dollars in losses.
They say, at least, Jerome King and Jerome Lane, half brothers, won't be at it for awhile.