Craig Day, News On 6
McALESTER, Oklahoma -- Stealing is bad enough, but what kind of person steals from a church? It's happened to a half dozen churches in Pittsburg County.
Thieves are getting mostly copper from air conditioning units, but it seems nothing is safe - including one congregation's church bell.
At the Double Springs Missionary Baptist Church in Pittsburg County, everything looks normal, but church Pastor Norman Frye says something missing.
"It was located under this cedar tree over here," said Pastor Norman Frye. "I feel kind of half way teed off at them, you know, for doing that. They don't have no business with it, it's not theirs."
Frye discovered thieves had taken the 300-pound church bell.
"I could barely get it off the ground on one end, on one side," he said.
So it was no easy task. Frye couldn't believe it was stolen.
"They don't have no business with it," he said. "It's not their property; it's not ours; it belongs to the church. It belongs to the Lord. That's his property not ours."
This isn't the only church targeted by thieves. Just this month thieves took copper from two other churches. Last month a church was vandalized. A few months back, two other churches had copper stolen.
It's becoming an expensive problem totaling about $30,000 so far.
"Nobody is around them on certain days, and it's - copper is real expensive nowadays - so it's going for a lot of money, and they just see it as a target," said Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford.
Pittsburg County Undersheriff Richard Bedford says investigators are looking into whether the same thieves are to blame for all of the cases.
"Someone has to know who is doing this. Somebody has to know these individuals," he said.
Back at Double Springs Church, they're hopeful the thieves are found, and the bell is returned to its rightful place. With less than a dozen members, coming up with $600 to replace it would be tough.
Almost as tough as understanding why someone would take it in the first place.
"It's the Lord's. It belongs to him. They're going to have to answer to him," said Norman Frye, pastor of Double Springs Church.
Thefts have also happened at churches in and around Indianola, east of Krebs, and north of McAlester.
Anyone with information can call Pittsburg County Crime Stoppers at 866-970-8477. Callers remain anonymous and could earn a cash reward.