One church in Butler County may have to change its Christmas plans after thieves tore open its central air unit for parts leaving the church without heat, and it's not the only church that has been vandalized this holiday season.
Copper pipes and a radiator. That's what Sheriff Kenny Harden says thieves destroyed Rocky Mount Baptist Church's central air unit to get. The Deacon of the church, James Peagler, says the theft put a damper on the Christmas spirit for the congregation and, without the heating unit, their Christmas plans could be changed, "If it turns out really cold, we probably will have to postpone some of our activities."
Sheriff Harden says the thieves are probably scrapping the metal, and that is causing thousands of dollars in damage, "For probably less than $30 they get selling it for scrap, it's costing the church member $4,000 to $5,000 dollars to fix them back. That takes a pretty sorry person to do something like that."
Another church just 25 miles east of Rocky Mount Baptist had the same thing happen to it just a couple weeks earlier, and it's not the first time for this church.
Two years ago, church officials installed fencing and locked gates after air units were destroyed for parts. But even that didn't keep criminals out. The custodian says the thieves cut the locks, costing over $8,000 in insurance money to replace these units.
Peagler says the church is considering putting fencing or some type of metal barrier around the air unit once it is replaced.
The Sheriff also says there is a possibility these two crimes could be related.
If you have any information about the thefts you are asked to call the Butler County Sheriff's Office at 334-382-6521.