Seemingly without fear of the Almighty's wrath, thieves ripped copper drain pipes off several churches in the Omaha area last month.
The decorative downspouts adorned the outside of the churches for decades before they were torn down for their scrap metal value.
“It's no secret that these old, architecturally interesting structures used copper in their construction many years ago, but with the increase in the price of scrap copper, nothing seems to be safe,” said Jim Thompson, president of the Leavenworth Neighborhood Association.
Thompson said copper downspouts were stolen from First Congregational Church at 36th and Harney Streets, First Lutheran Church near 31st and Jackson Streets, and St. Cecilia Cathedral near 40th and Webster Streets.
The pipes were likely cut at ground level, then jiggled until they came loose from the church facade, Thompson said.
Said First Lutheran Pastor Judith Rainforth: “It's disappointing when these things happen, but that doesn't stop us from helping the community.
“I'm sad for them, because they're the ones who have to live with what they've done,” she added.
Scrap copper could sell for $3 to $4 per pound depending on the day's market price. Last week, the price was about $3.40, according to Alter Metal Recycling in Omaha.
The stolen copper downspouts weighed 10 to 15 pounds, said Tony Pflug, co-owner of Lastime Roofing.
As a way to prevent additional thievery, Holy Name Church in Omaha replaced its remaining copper downspouts last year after some fell victim to scrappers.
“We put in steel downspouts and then painted them to look copper, then somebody came back and stole one of those,” Pflug said.
At least in Holy Name's case, the church was able to sell the copper downspouts and use that money for the replacements, he said.
But First Lutheran Church anticipates an estimated $4,000 bill for new rain gutters.
“That's a lot of money for a church,” Rainforth said.
First Lutheran relies on volunteers and spends the majority of its resources on giving back to the community with a food pantry, clothes closet and meals for the hungry.
“I know that desperate people do desperate things, but I hope they join in with our outreach efforts rather than make it more difficult,” Rainforth said.
She and Thompson urged neighbors or people in the area to keep watch for any suspicious activity and to contact police to report any thefts.
Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Omaha Crime Stoppers by phone at 402-444-7867;
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