Two men in California were arrested for stealing copper from the Carmichael Bible Church.
Pastor Curtis Pearson noted his church has been under financial constraints lately and that they definitely felt the impact of the theft.
“We're not a big church and finances are definitely tight,” said Pearson.
Fox40 reported the estimated damages are from $55,000 to $60,000.
The two thieves did not attempt the theft once, but twice. The first attempt was on a Tuesday night. They took 4 to 5 dozen of screws and panels and unhooked the Freon from the air conditioner, causing it to be drained. The second time they came, on a Wednesday night, is when they were caught.
Pearson noticed the damages to the air conditioner and heating units the next morning around 7 a.m. He first thought it was a few homeless people who usually stay in that area.
Church officials immediately told their insurance providers as well as the Sheriff's department to file a report. Pastor Matt Potratz contacted the Sheriff’s department again and the Sheriff and church members agreed to work together to catch the thieves.
Church member Gary Jensen, Michael Talpas, and Pastor Jeff Livingston then devised a plan to stay overnight on watch. Talpas said to Fox40: “We decided to do a sting operation.”
The group used a wireless baby monitor to catch the thieves. They placed it on the roof of the church and each took 45-minute shifts of watching the TV monitor.
Around 4 a.m., Jensen was about to go to sleep, when Pastor Livingston spotted the thieves on the monitor. This time the thieves were trying to take the copper wiring. The group proceeded to call 911.
According to Jensen, they saw the capture unfold on the monitor. Jensen said they were, “Just watching, very excited, and high fiving," according to Fox40.
The Sacramento County Sheriff arrested Curtis Darnell, 36, and Howard Sanders, 26, at 4:30 a.m. The two thieves are facing charges of vandalism, grand theft, and criminal conspiracy.
The insurance will cover the damages, but the adults will remain without heat. Church officials primary concern was the children, because of the nursery.