$200 worth of stolen copper could cost St. John's Baptist $20,00 - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

$200 worth of stolen copper could cost church $20K

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HOPKINS, SC (WIS) -

St. John's Baptist Church in Hopkins provided thieves with about $200 in scrap copper, but the six shredded air conditioning units could cost the church more than $20,000.

"Anything we have to do above and beyond our annual budget, it takes away from the church,' said St. John's Chairman Thomas Gunter.

Gunter says their ministries like senior citizen and homeless feeding programs could be affected by the cost of the theft.

"The ministries themselves, we trust in the Almighty, so we'll get through this," said Gunter.

Investigator Scott Blair is the copper theft specialist with Richland County. He says since Jan. 1, they've seen about 13 incidents in the Hopkins area with nine of them being churches.

"That's a heavy burden on a church that doesn't have a large budget," said Blair.

Blair says they're happening mostly on Monday through Wednesdays. Many churches in this area can't afford surveillance, making them easier targets.

But Blair says he's working with scrap yards to catalog area A/C units in hopes of tracking down the criminals.

"We're going to be able to see those numbers that are small," said Blair. "I'm not gonna be able to see them, ya'll won't be able to see them, but the scrap yards will be able to see them."

Meanwhile, St. John's will take their own action. Gunter won't say what for obvious reasons, but says they won't be victimized again.

"The next time they come through and want to visit St. John's, we'll have a surprise for them. Oh yeah," said Gunter. "We'll be prepared."

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