ST. LOUIS – Thieves hit a north St. Louis church and Sunday’s service has been canceled as a result.
The suspects tried to steal copper wire from the church’s power supply, but they didn’t even do that right.
Ameren Missouri crews frequently encounter situations where thieves stole air conditioners or other items with copper for resale.
In this case, the thieves did not get what they wanted and left the congregation in the dark.
On Father’s Day, the pastor and his congregation at St. Philips Evangelical Lutheran Church finally had an in-person service after 15 months of meeting on Zoom.
“Everyone was excited about coming in for in person services,” said Dr. Terrence Freeman, the president of the church’s council.
Now they have to go back to Zoom after someone cut the power supply to the church apparently looking for copper. It turns out the line was made of aluminum, which is worth 35 cents a pound, while copper is valued at 12 times more.
“Very sad, very sad,” said James Williams, who is a life-long member of the 95-year-old church.
A church clock indicates the theft occurred around 12:40 a.m. Thursday. The organ is silent, the lights don’t work, and the switches are out of order.
One local electrical contractor said a repair like this will cost the 60-member congregation at least $2,500 and it could go much higher.
“It’s not a question of getting that much money it’s how quickly we get that much money and how quickly we get back into the building how quickly we serve the community and serve the people,” Dr. Freeman said.
The church, made up of mostly aging members, helps children by giving away schools supplies and offering food to families, plus free lunch on Saturdays. The suspect only needed to ask for help.
“We could have done what we’re able to do depending on what their needs are,” Freeman said.
Williams added, “If it’s that bad, why don’t you try the other side of life? The other side of life is don’t steal; try to find yourself something to do.”
The president of the church council wants justice but that doesn’t necessarily mean putting those responsible in jail.
“Let me hope for their recovery, let me hope for their redemption,” Freeman said. “At the same time, you don’t get a pass from doing what you’re doing.”
Ameren Missouri said thefts like this happen to homes and businesses that are vacant or not being used on certain days.