Sometimes the simplest church security strategy can net great results. Having been victimized by copper thieves to the tune of over $50,000, Carmichael (California) Bible Church Pastor Jeff Livingston, and members Gary Jensen and Michael Talpas decided to set up a sting in an attempt to catch the thieves red handed.
According to The Christian Post, the small church has been experiencing tight finances, and the destruction of the air conditioning unit did not help. On a Tuesday night, the thieves had removed screws from the unit and drained the freon. So on Wednesday night, they decided to do something about it.
After contacting the Sheriff’s office and insurance company to report the incident, the men planned to stake out the location. Using the concept of improvise, adapt, and overcome, the men set up a wireless baby monitor and placed it on the church roof pointing it at the air conditioner. Each man took a 45 minute shift watching the monitor.
At approximately 4 AM, as Jensen was relieved by Pastor Livingston, the thieves returned to steal the copper wiring. The men called 911 and Sheriff’s deputies responded and found alleged suspects Curtis Darnell, 36 and Howard Sanders, 26 on the scene. The men were arrested and are being charged with vandalism, grand theft, and criminal conspiracy.
Jensen said they were, “Just watching, very excited, and high fiving,” according to Fox40. The men watched the arrest on the baby monitor video screen.
A great job using simple tools.
Copper theft is a growing problem for churches and business owners alike. Due to high scrap metal prices, thieves are taking advantage of dimly lit and isolated properties and causing large losses.
The two best ways to hinder a copper theft on your church property are to increase lighting in the area and placing a locked fence all the way around the air conditioning unit.
Often, after a criminal incident like this, churches will consider installing an expensive security camera system. Although this may act as a deterrent and aid in catching a criminal, the systems are expensive and may be cost prohibitive for smaller churches.
Although this strategy is easily defeated by those prepared with bolt cutters, it can hinder crimes of opportunity and spare your church a needless loss.