Thieves swipe air conditioners from local churches


Reporter - Kendall Downing

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ill. - Houses of worship have become targets for thieves in a local county, hoping to make a quick buck.

In just a couple weeks time, crooks swiped multiple air conditioning units from three rural Franklin County, Illinois churches.

The thieves hit Jackson Grove Baptist Church and Creek Nation Pentecostal Church twice in one week. Harmony Freewill Baptist Church lost two units this past weekend.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department doesn't have any suspects, and they aren't sure if the crimes are related.

Harmony Church is home for 82-year-old Sylvia Meyers.

"There's a lot of people here that's faithful," she said.

She first came to church there as a little girl and is now shocked thieves stole two more air conditioning units this weekend.

"I can't understand people," she said.

This isn't the first time the church has been hit. They had to replace another unit last year.

"People have no qualms about stealing from anybody or any place anymore it seems like," said Meyers.

Across the county, Dan Halliday's dealing with a similar situation.

"They cut on it with a saw," he said.

Somebody ripped two air conditioning units from the wall at Jackson Grove Baptist, with the power still live.

"It does bother me. I'm of the old school where you didn't mess with cemeteries, and you didn't mess with churches," he said.

Franklin County investigators said churches are becoming a common target. Their rural settings and specific hours put them on the thieves' radar..

Deputies believe the units are sold for scrap, netting at most $100 each. They cost about $3,000 to replace.

"If they'd come and told the church they needed some money, we'd have given them one hundred bucks," said Halliday.

Sylvia Meyers said she'd like to see those responsible ask for forgiveness at the church doors on Sunday.

"It would be good if they'd repent and change their way of life," she said.

If you have any information on the thefts, Franklin County deputies want to hear from you. You can reach the sheriff's department at (618) 438-8211.