Several churches across rural parts of Northwest Georgia have been targeted in a string of thefts over the last month, authorities say.
Investigators believe that someone has been stealing air-conditioning units from places of worship across Gordon, Bartow, Gilmer, Pickens and Cherokee counties.
“It’s sickening that any individual would steal from a church,” said Gordon County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Robert Paris.
Authorities think copper and aluminum from the units are being sold to scrap yards.
Investigators also believe the thefts across the area are connected, and they are working with the other law enforcement agencies to make arrests, Paris said. A small, red pickup truck may be involved with the thefts, but there are no suspects yet, he said.
In the last two weeks, four churches off U.S. Highway 411 in the eastern part of Gordon County were burglarized, Paris said. The air-conditioning units — which cost $2,000 to $4,000 — were stolen the same way from each building, he said.
All the robberies were at churches that are isolated from main roads, which leads authorities to believe the thieves are experienced, Paris said.
Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston has ordered extra patrols in those areas.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity at an area church is urged to contact the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office at 706-629-1245.
Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...