SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The pastor of a downtown church says would-be copper thieves ended up leaving behind hundreds of dollars in damage.
It's unclear exactly when the criminals struck at St. Paul United Methodist at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Walnut Street.
"We think sometime last weekend," says Dr. Ron McIntire, pastor (full interview above). "Someone or several someones attempted to steal some copper piping off an air conditioning unit outside."
He says the thieves were likely there for the copper. They didn't get away with anything, but busted the unit enough to leak out hundreds of dollars worth of refrigerant.
"Unfortunately that line is one that serves our youngest children's area," adds McIntire. "So, we're waiting right now for someone to repair."
A technician was called out to repair the unit Wednesday morning and realized it was the work of vandals.
"We've had some graffiti. It kind of happens if you're downtown. It happens to businesses. We're a downtown presence. We've got some graffiti on the east side of our church that we're not proud of. It's there. We've had lesser cases of vandalism in the past years, but nothing recently until we had this."
The church has the funds to pay for repairs; a police report has not yet been filed.
"I'm very disappointed someone would be in whatever frame of mind it took to do something like this. I know that not everyone holds a church in high regard, but usually people will at least not try and damage one. But such is not the case this time."