WILKES-BARRE -- Copper gutters nearly a century old were ripped off the side of a church in Wilkes-Barre.
The theft Tuesday night happened just hours after a crime watch meeting inside the house of worship.
The secretary and members at Wyoming Valley Presbyterian believe at least one crook targeted their church by ripping off a few pieces of the copper gutters. The aluminum base was also taken.
"What they took is just aluminum, those little bases. Whether they didn’t know what they were looking for, I don’t know,” explained church secretary Debbie Rushkowski.
Rushkowski showed Newswatch 16 the mangled pieces of gutter and the five aluminum bases that were taken from the church on Lockhart Street. Rushkowski says the crooks may have had trouble getting as much metal as they wanted because of an electric coil that runs through many of the gutters to prevent ice and snow from freezing in the winter.
"We’re afraid they might be back. That’s why we’re going to leave the lights on."
"I think it’s a shame. It’s awful. The guy told me this morning when I was going out. I can’t believe they would do that to a church,” Karen Hogan said.
Hogan believes the motion-sensor flood lights on the side of her home kept the thieves from taking the gutters on the back side of the church.
Members say it's ironic and upsetting that the crime happened just hours after the Solomon Creek Goose Island chapter of the Wilkes-Barre crime watch met inside their church.
"I was born and raised here and this is not the city I grew up in. I’m embarrassed to say I’m from Wilkes-Barre. It’s frightening and it’s scary. And it’s very disappointing."
The church secretary hopes that neighbors will keep an eye out for activity around the church at night and that workers at scrap yards will call police if someone tries to sell square, aluminum gutter bases or some copper gutter.