AC units stolen, damaged at 2 Chatham County churches

PITTSBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two Chatham County churches within several miles of each other were both hit by thieves this past week. But despite their losses, church staff and members of at least one congregation aren't "losing their cool."

This weekend's services at Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Pittsboro were much hotter than usual after a disturbing discovery earlier in the week.

"Thursday morning when we came in we discovered that of our seven outside air conditioning units that we had, six had been stolen. The seventh had been damaged to where it couldn't be used," says Pastor Dan Robinson.

And a similar scene unfolded at nearby Emmaus Baptist Church, where their AC units were also vandalized. While Emmaus ended up holding their services elsewhere due to the heat, Pastor Robinson's congregation stayed put with a little help from some extra fans and open windows.

Still, it was an inconvenience that wasn't lost on the Chatham County Sheriff's Office.

"Because they were taken from churches it impacts potentially hundreds of county residents, so we're taking it very seriously," says Lt. Eric Lindley with the Sheriff's Office.

As for why thieves might steal the units in the first place?

"More than likely it's the raw metal that's in it, particularly copper. It has a high resale value," Lt. Lindley explained.

So far no arrests have been made, although the sheriff's office has been stepping up patrols around other churches. And while they're asking the public to be vigilant, Pastor Robinson is asking for the thieves who hit his church to consider this message:

"We gather together to worship and celebrate God's compassion and love and a different way to live, so what I would say to those people is there is a better way to live."

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