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COPPER—A wave of crime

Churches are being hit with a huge crime wave. Air conditioning units are being targeted for thieves to take the copper off the unit and sell it for scrap. This is a result of copper prices reaching all time highs. Thieves are getting more inventive by posing as construction or repair workers, which doesn’t cause alarm by pastors or neighbors. This gives them ample time to assess the premises and/or take items at the time of inspection.

Why Churches?

Outdoor air conditioning units are easy targets. Churches are often not occupied at night and do not have close neighbors. Larger churches have multiple units that include great amounts of copper. Even the smaller churches with one air conditioning unit are easy targets.

Churches that are hit one time are usually targeted for repeat hits. Many churches have been hit multiple times; sometimes within days or weeks of the units being repaired.

Why Copper?

Copper is 100% recyclable and selling scrap pieces is very lucrative. Copper items include wires, plumbing pipes, air conditioning coils and rain gutters. It is virtually impossible to trace whether the copper has been stolen. Old and new copper look the same and do not include identifying labels or serial numbers

What can your church do to be prepared?

  • Always ask for proper photo identification for anyone you hire to do the repairs or inspect your premises.
  • Cage and lock your air conditioning unit and wiring or fence the area. Be sure exterior lighting includes outside equipment.
  • Eliminate hiding places by cutting back trees and shrubbery. Request law enforcement officers to patrol your facilities regularly.
  • Consider moving your air conditioning unit to your roof.
  • Don’t leave ladders outside which can enable thieves to reach your rooftop.
  • Consider installing video cameras, sensors, or irreversible screws.
  • During construction projects, do not leave wire spools or piping out in the open.
  • Request neighbors to report suspicious activity immediately.
  • Notify local recycling centers immediately of what has been stolen. Give a detailed description of the materials, as scrap yards are instructed to obtain names of individuals that bring in materials.