Burglar targets church, raids it of copper

Copper thieves break into Raleigh church

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Police Department is investigating after someone broke into a church and raided it of all its copper lining.

Pastor Henry Lavender of Living Life in Victory Church on Old Austin Peay Highway told police someone burglarized the church Tuesday or Wednesday.

He said crime won’t deter him from serving his community.

"We are still focused. Still focused on the mission that God has given us," said Lavender.

The burglar broke in through a roll-up door in the back of the building and cut sections of copper piping from the air condition units.

Lavender said the wires to the alarm system were also cut during the burglary, meaning police were not notified of the break-in earlier.

The burglar also removed ceiling tiles and stole copper tubes and pipes in the ceiling.

"It's more than $40,000 for sure because the air conditioning outside, freon, you're looking at a lot of money, the labor alone just to replace all of that," said Lavender.

Lavender said they had plans to turn the space into a job training center offering GED, nursing, and cosmetology courses.

"It really affects you because once you've done so much in the community you wouldn't think someone would do that to you," said Lavender.

Burglar steals copper from Raleigh church

The signage for the new training center had already been put up.

The church had also recently made an announcement to the congregation that the resource would be available.

The pastor believes it took a team of thieves to pull off the burglary and shared this message.

“You’re hurting yourself and you’re hurting your community when you do this,” said Lavender.

There is no suspect information at this time.

A GoFundMe was set up to help the church pay for the extensive damage. Click here if you’d like to donate.

Copyright 2019 WMC. All rights reserved.