Thieves leave church without air conditioning

Wednesday, June 4th 2008, 10:03 pm
By: News 9

By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9

Thieves are now targeting local churches.

Police said they're making off with air conditioning coils and selling the copper for cash.

Because of that, one church is now forced to worship in the heat because they can't afford to replace their cooling system.

Inside the Westlawn Baptist Church temperature hits 84 degrees without air conditioning. This is how it's been for the past several days.

"It's not been that hot, so we just opened windows and used what fans we had, but now it's getting hotter," Musical Director Sandy Patton said.

So hot in fact, that the pastor of the church can't conduct evening services because of a heart condition. Patton said it's a challenge to carry on with normal duties because the heat is unbearable.

"I don't know what we're going to do," Patton said. "We have Vacation Bible School scheduled for Sunday night, and it's too hot. It was 88 degrees in here yesterday."

Westlawn was one of three churches targeted by thieves in recent weeks, all of them looking for copper. New laws now require recyclers ask for proof of copper ownership and identification, but police said the thefts haven't slowed down.

"Hopefully that's going to be a deterrent and we'll start taking action on the new laws, but right now the way the economy is, they're going to get the money any way they can," Oklahoma City Police Inspector Marty Stupka said.

Westlawn is facing an economic crisis of its own. The church is so small, most of the officers don't take a salary and it cannot afford a new cooling system. The congregation is hoping for a miracle so it can once again worship in comfort.

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