SALINE COUNTY (KATV) - A place of worship may be considered sacred but not to thieves. Copper was stolen from a Benton church Tuesday afternoon.
"When I first saw it I thought, 'I paid the bill, why is the meter gone?'" said Pastor David Walker, of Christ Assembly Church.
"I noticed that the meter had been torn out and wires had been cut and pulled out," he added.
It took him a few seconds to realize Christ Assembly Church was now a part of a long list of other churches in Arkansas people are coming to for more than just the word of God. They strip A/C units and meters of their copper. Pastor Walker's looking at about $1,000 in repairs and equipment.
"We're limited on funds so it does make a difference. It hurts," he said.
The number of copper thefts rise along with the price of the metal. For Airmaster it's translated into a 200 percent increase in calls last year.
Many heat and air conditioning companies offer products that make these crimes harder for thieves by selling everything from cages to alarms. But there are no promises made.
"When they're desperate they are going to find a way," said Mason Harshbarger, a service technician at Airmasters. "The best we can do is try to deter them."
Pastor Walker says he's replaced the unit with aluminum this time and as far as the thieves. It's out of his hands.
"The word of God says that vengeance is mine," he said. "I'll let the Lord take care of it."