Monday, January 9

Metal Thefts at Church: "Think About It" by Carl Chinn

Reposted with permission from

Metal Thefts at Church
We’ve all heard the stories of copper theft. While copper isn’t the only valuable non-ferrous metal, it is that of the most abundance and a current cash cow.
Copper as a trading commodity, is now bouncing around $3.40 / pound. Any time it is that high, copper prices go high in the scrapyards as well. Metal scrapyards (though watched carefully by law enforcement in most metro areas) are the pawn shop supply of metal thieves. Whether they are bringing batteries, copper, lead, brass, aluminum or stainless steel there is a scale waiting to calculate their payoff in green cash.
I have seen myself where brass hydrants were jerked out of an exterior wall by a chain hooked to a vehicle. I have seen rooftop air-handling equipment as big as the box on a moving truck completely stripped of all precious metals. Many hits around us are to churches.
In the Memphis area, copper thieves have hit six churches and a cemetery in recent weeks. Most of these were the common stripping (and thereby ruining) air conditioning units, but they also went under the crawlspace of a building and took all the copper piping.
An Edmond Oklahoma church hit recently calculated that the $240.00 worth of copper stripped from their three AC units came with a $9,000 repair bill for the church.
At one of the churches hit in the Brooksville Florida area the damage to 5 air-conditioning units is estimated at $100,000.00.
Every single day right now, I read about similar thefts form churches around the country.
Think About It…
  • Thieves still view churches as soft targets. In many cases of smaller churches, they know the building is unoccupied much of the time. Even in large churches, it is easy to see what days of the week or times of the night there is nobody around.
  • Your local security systems suppliers can install automated and / or local sounding alarms to go off should the panels be removed from AC units. This is a great deterrent.
  • Lighting is often a low priority in mechanical areas. Low light attracts thieves.
  • Like graffiti, metal damage should be taken care of quickly. If they steal a little bit and notice weeks have gone by without anyone seeming to care, it attracts the thieves to consider bigger targets at the site.
  • Report all metal thefts. There is a regrettable tendency in churches to not report crimes – especially if they are less than the insurance deductibles. Report all crime.
  • Outside security patrols should have it in their regular routine to check exterior equipment. A panel pried up can be an indication that someone has checked the copper content of a piece of equipment and is ready to come back and complete the project when they can get a vehicle (or whatever reason they may be waiting on). Such minor damage should be treated with high suspicion.


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  2. Metal found at churches have value. They need to provide security for the property.