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September 10, 2013

Costly Damage by Copper Thieves

Air conditioning units ruined at two churches.

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Every year, a number of church leaders find air conditioning units damaged by scrap-metal thieves. Often these church leaders are surprised to hear that the worth of the stolen scrap metal is significantly lower than the cost of the thousands of dollars to repair the damage.

The copper recently stolen from an air conditioning unit on a church's property in Cleveland is worth $5, and the items destroyed are worth $7,000, according to a deacon's statement in a Fox 8 Cleveland report.

A Chicago church with a ministry that offers after-school activities for children recently found that seven of its nine air conditioning units on the roof were damaged by copper theft, according to CBS Chicago. "What will amount to a few hundred dollars in scrap metal for a thief will cost $35,000 plus labor for [the church] to replace," a CBS Chicago news reporter says in a video. Until money is raised and the repairs are made, there won't be any air conditioning.

In the past two years, precious metal claims have risen 36 percent, and 96 percent of those claims are tied to copper, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

If not done already, church leaders may want to consider taking measures to protect church air conditioning units from thieves. One way to help prevent this crime is to place a protective cage around the air conditioning unit. More tips are listed in a previous article on Managing Your Church.

Businesses now sell a variety of services to help prevent against copper theft, according to CNBC.

For more information on protecting church property, a few downloadable resources that cover this topic include:

Michelle Dowell is the editorial coordinator for the Church Law & Tax Group at Christianity Today.

Related Tags: church building, churches, property, theft

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