Thieves have been targeting local Isle of Wight churches to steal scrap metal, according to Capt. Rick Gaddis of the Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office.
Between December 1 and December 8, outside heating and air-conditioning units were stolen from Union Bethel AME Church, located at 14080 Bethel Church Lane in Smithfield, and Mill Swamp Baptist Church, located at 6329 Mill Swamp Road in Ivor.
Copper drain pipes were also stolen between December 12 and December 13 from historic St. Luke’s Church, located at 14477 Benns Church Blvd. in Smithfield.
A St. Luke’s employee stated that the copper drain pipes are worth approximately $12,000.
Rachael Buchanan, Executive Director of St. Luke’s says six drain pipes were stolen.
“We’re already starting to see a little bit of drainage issues,” she says.
The churches are not occupied during the evening and night hours - and officials say that is when the thefts took place.
All three cases are pending investigation.
Scrap metal theft and subsequent sale to scrap dealers is a longstanding regional problem, according to officials. Existing state code requires scrap dealers to report sellers to their local law enforcement agency.
If you know the identity of these thieves, or can identify scrap metal dealers who knowingly purchase stolen property, please call the Crime Line at 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.