Thieves target rural Georgia churches

Thieves target rural Georgia churches

July 12th, 2011 by Joy Lukachick Smith in News

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.