Church targeted by copper thieves

March 18, 2013 4:54:39 PM PDT
Members of a church in the Acres Homes area were forced to worship in the dark this weekend, after becoming the target of what appears to be a sophisticated pair of copper thieves.

The thieves broke into the electrical boxes at the True Vine Holiness Deliverance Church. Police say all the wiring inside the boxes was either stolen or stripped.

On Monday the church on Prairie View Drive went through the process of getting repair estimates from electricians. It was just part of the mess they're left to deal with. Members say they're stuck using a generator for light until they can come up with the money to fix the electricity.

Reverend Will Casey is having a tough time right now. It's all because members at True Vine Holiness Church say a couple of copper thieves hit the building before Sunday's service.

He said, "It's really ridiculous how people can do a church or either a home that way, and people are working so hard to try to have something, then somebody over here working so hard to take it from them."

Church members say they first found the locks on the utility boxes were popped three weeks ago. Those locks were replaced. But the pastors says the crooks came back last week, ripping out all electrical wiring to the church, presumably to make money off the copper.

Even neighbors are worried now.

"I saw the wiring hanging out, and I was like afraid," said neighbor Petrina Jeffersonn. "Who would do that? Because it had to be done in the daytime."

Church members say eyewitnesses told them a couple of men in hard hats, posing as a utility crew, were spotted on the side of the church doing unauthorized work. They never realized the church was being ripped off.

Dr. Joanna Casey thinks the crooks knew what they were doing.

"Because if you do not, I've been told that you can definitely get fried," she said.

Now the church is in the dark.

Houston police say they are very familiar with this type of crime. Police suggest a few things to reduce the risk of becoming a victim:

  • Secure the area
  • Lock utility boxes
  • Add fencing
For now neighbors and church members are giving the metal thieves a warning.

Jeffersonn said, "Watch out! Because we are going to be on alert, and call more police. And it's a shame that you would do that."

Police are investigating the case and they encourage anyone with information to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

Anyone interested in assisting the church with their repairs can contact Pastor JoAnna Casey at 713-885-2252.

This robbery comes as Harris County implements tougher copper sales rules for scrap yards. On January 1, the county began requiring scrap yard workers to take photos of the copper they buy and the people who sell it. The city of Houston already has similar laws. Over the past few years, thieves have stripped tens of thousands of dollars' worth of copper from private properties.

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