DEATSVILLE, AL (WSFA) - Investigators are searching for copper thieves who struck two Deatsville churches.
During a span of about 10 days in early January, thieves stole copper coils from four heating and AC units at Shoal Creek Baptist Church. At Deatsville Baptist Church they stole a whole unit and you can still see tire tracks where the crooks backed up to snatch the unit.
While they have all since been replaced, church leaders in the community say it's unsettling.
"It's a real heartbreak," said Dr, Jim Jackson, the Director of Missions at the Elmore Baptist Association, which serves both churches that were hit.
"That's God's house and God's property, and we're trying to be good stewards of that and take care of it. And it really hurts," he said.
Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin said, "I think you're going to find that when we do find the person or people responsible, it's something that they've been doing for a while. It usually will solve multiple burglaries and thefts that we're working."
"And copper is a hot commodity," he added.
Franklin says they've been working several cases where crooks targeted valuable metals, specifically scrap metals, but for now, there are no leads or suspects for the crimes at the churches.
And to Dr. Jackson, it's a lesson that nothing is sacred to criminals, not even churches.
"There are so many issues that we don't think about, that we just take everything for granted and think everything is okay. But particularly with churches, we need to be concerned about this," he said.
Replacing an AC unit can cost up to $5,000 dollars depending on it's age; luckily those churches had insurance to cover the costs.
If you know any information that can help investigators in this case, call the secret witness line at 334-567-5227.