Air conditioning units stolen from Knoxville church; thief caught on surveillance

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Security cameras were rolling as a thief stole two air conditioning units from a North Knoxville church.

The video shows it took just 20 minutes for a man in a green truck to steal the units from American Baptist Church, located at 2203 Lonsdale Pike. The theft happened at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

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A day later there are still ragged wires where the AC units should be. Church members said the burglar went through a lot of effort to get to the units. They were surrounded by a chain link fence and bolted to the ground.

The burglar may have only gotten $30 for the units, according to the church’s pastor, Danny Ogle, but the damage to the church is much more. “If he was hungry we would’ve fed him, or if he needed gas money, we would have helped him with gas money,” said Ogle.

This is the third time the church has had their air conditioning units stolen. The first theft happened in July of 2013 and the second theft occurred in October of 2013. “It is $500 to $1,000 each time we’re hit,” said church member Fran Bales. However, what Bales can’t believe is who would go through that much effort to steal from a church.

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Pastor Ogle is worried he may have one too many insurance claims. “We’re a small church about 35 to 50 members and it would be a big blow for us to have to come up with $5,000,” said Ogle.

Ogle said the church is thinking of new security measures, but he said even though they have faith that everything will work out, it is still devastating. “Spiritually it gets you down to walk in and see your church has been vandalized,” said the pastor. “I just pray that maybe he would come forward and say ‘Hey I did this and I’m sorry.’ And he would get his life on the right track.”

The Knoxville Police Department is handling the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at (865) 215-7212.

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