Church among latest victims of copper wire thefts

October 2, 2011 9:12:53 PM PDT
Thieves hit several businesses in southwest Houston this weekend looking for one thing -- copper.

The criminals targeted the businesses on a strip mall located on South Dairy Ashford. They were willing to even take the copper wiring from a neighborhood church.

It was not a typical Sunday morning for the sound technician here at Gravity Church

"We set up the equipment and get our camera ready and put some music on, but today it wasn't like that," said Hector Guerra.

There was no power and as they investigated a little more, the found broken locks littered the back parking lot.

"They come off the meters and they hit a disconnect where all the cables were recently cut," Guerra said.

The copper wiring was all gone.

"They knew what they were doing; if not they would have been hanging off here fried, electrocuted," said Guerra.

Pastor Jose Morales quickly realized having a service would be a challenge

"Our praise and worship has loud music and a light show and everything and you can't do that without power," Pastor Morales said.

So they improvised with a generator for Sunday worship. But they aren't alone -- six more tenants at this shopping center were targeted too.

"Someone actually came here, took the cover off," said Pastor Morales.

Replacing the wiring and system at the businesses will cost ten of thousands of dollars

"I think it's pretty sad that we are out here to help and some are out to knock you down," Guerra said.

The church is now looking for ways it can better protect itself

"We're also thinking about putting some cages here," said Pastor Morales.

At the same time offering a hand to the person who left them in the dark

"We believe here we can help you work your problems out instead of going out there and invading people's property and destroying their stuff," Pastor Morales said.

The strip mall is the latest in a string of robberies where the thieves were focused on stealing metals. Last week, there was a rash of metal thefts in the Woodlands.

On Tuesday alone, there were seven thefts. Half a dozen businesses including an ER clinic were also hit along Kuykendahl.

Even the Woodlands Fire Department fell victim. Thieves stole brass and copper water pipe fittings known as back-flow preventers. They protect water supplies from contamination or pollution and they are not cheap. It's estimated that each back-flow preventer that is stolen will cost taxpayers $2,000 to replace.

Anyone with information on the crimes can call Montgomery County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-392-STOP.

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