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Copper thieves strike at Reading church for third time in less than a week

By Jennifer Joas, Reporter, JJoas@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 30 2013 09:36:06 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 31 2013 10:35:20 AM CDT

Reading Police say copper thieves do not discriminate when it comes to choosing their next victim.

READING, Pa. -

Reading Police say copper thieves do not discriminate when it comes to choosing their next victim.

A church in Reading was burglarized again on Friday night after being hit on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Police are trying to catch the suspects.

A high metal fence and barbed wire was not enough to keep copper thieves out of Saint Mark's United Church of Christ in Reading. Police are looking for thieves who targeted the church two nights in a row and again on Friday.

"They are targeting these air conditioning units because they have copper coils inside that they remove and then they trade that in for cash because the price of copper is high at this moment," said Reading Police Sergeant John Solecki.

This is the fift time St. Mark's has been targeted by copper thieves, causing thousands of dollars in damage.

"They are destroying a $2,000 air conditioning unit and getting maybe $30 or $40 dollars in return for the copper that they strip out of that unit," said Solecki.

For the time being, the church will have to use fans to cool the building for services and their children's programs.

Church members say they hope police can catch the thieves soon.

"It is a shame that you try to do so much as far as outreach for the neighborhood. And whoever they are, god be with them. But we definitely have to get them off the street and get them help one way or the other," said Saint Mark's Consistorial President Phil Wylezik.

There are some measures you can take to avoid being a victim. Police say you can paint the copper or etch it with initials so if it is stolen the scrap yard will know not to accept it.