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Copper Thieves Target Church

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LITTLE ROCK -

Soaring scrap metal prices have created a growing problem for home and business owners.

Air conditioning units are being ravaged by thieves.  And few arrests are being made.

Payne Chapel AME Zion Church at 1710 Rock Street was founded in 1886 and rededicated 40 years ago.

The past few years have proven to be a trying time for the Little Rock congregation.

Sometime over the weekend copper thieves worked around a metal cage surrounding an air conditioning unit at 4321 West 16th Street in Little Rock to vandalize the unit and make off with, maybe $35.00 worth of scrap metal.

It is a familiar sight and story to Reverend Robert Brooks.

Thieves have targeted the air conditioning units that cool his church every year for the past three years.

Chain link fences around the units failed to deter.

The last theft happened last week.

"Oh I think it's the location where we are," surmises Reverend Brooks as to why his church has been targeted so many times.  "That time of night it's quiet. There's nobody driving up and down these streets in this area."

Reverend Brooks met with his insurance agent Monday to discuss ways to prevent future theft.

Metal cages are being considered.  So is better lighting, motion-sensitive lights and cameras, making it harder to cut power to the units and engraving or using permanent fluorescent paint to mark copper tubing and other valuable parts.

"If someone is in need in this area if they'll come to the church we'll try to give them support to support their needs," shares Rev. Brooks. 

"They wouldn't have to steal from you?"

"They wouldn't have to steal from us," assures Rev. Brooks.

Little Rock police are investigating these and other copper thefts.  Please call if you have any information.

Air date:  October 22nd, 2012