Copper Thieves Hit More Churches

New laws aimed at cutting down on copper theft don't seem to be helping Little Rock area churches.

With six days to go, the month of October has already seen eight Capital City churches hit by copper thieves.

Lawmakers increased the penaltiesboth for the thieves and for the buyers of stolen copper and other scrap metalhoping to cut down on theft.

Little Rock churches haven't noticed much difference.

On Monday you met Reverend Robert Brooks with Payne Chapel AME Zion Church.

The air conditioners outside his downtown Little Rock church has been hit by copper thieves three times in the past three years.

"If someone is in need in this area if they'll come to the church we'll try to give them support to support their needs," Rev. Brooks told us Monday.

We asked Little Rock police about church copper thefts this year and this is what we learned: although the Northwest patrol division reports no thefts, the Southwest division and the Downtown division report sixteen each.

Many of the churches targeted have been inner-city and African-American.

The value of the metal stolen is small compared to the amount of money it takes to repair or replace the damaged property.

Savion Hogan is suspected of targeting the Awareness Center at 900 South Pine Street twice.

But other than Hogan, arrests have been few.

"They target churches and other businesses that are closed," says Sgt. Cassandra Davis with the Little Rock Police Dept. "And more particularly the churches because there is usually no one there until Wednesday night or the following Sunday."

Little Rock police are checking the dates of the thefts with the purchase records at area scrap yards and of course will listen to any tips.

Air date: October 25th, 2012