Copper Pipes Stolen from Wilkes-Barre Church

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WILKES-BARRE -- Copper pipes were stolen from Unity: A Spiritual Center on South Grant Street in Wilkes-Barre. Church members are replacing the pipes, but for the past couple days, they've been bringing in jugs of water to get by without proper plumbing.

At a century-old church, one expects there to be problems with the building. However, the plumbing issues at Unity: A Spiritual Center in the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre were deliberate.

The church's minister Diane Sickler says thieves broke into the church late last week and stole 20 to 30 feet of copper piping from the basement.

"It's rather inconvenient to not have water on a Sunday. We all brought in gallon jugs of water to flush our toilets with on Sunday," said Minister Sickler.

When Minister Sickler told the congregation what happened, she found some free help.

"We just got to resplice them back together again."

Lee Vanderhoof of Shickshinny is a member of the church on South Grant Street. He's also a veteran, now spending Veterans Day, working to replace the church's piping.

"It's just annoying the thought that somebody would come in and cut your pipes. The problem is that they don't much money out of it. They probably got $5 or $10 out of it for scrap," said Lee Vanderhoof, of Shickshinny.

Thanks to the volunteers, the cost to repair the piping in the basement is only about $100, but the volunteers say this fitting is tricky on the water heater, and if they can't fix that, they'll have to replace the whole thing. That's going to cost about $1000.

Vanderhoof says he has the repairs mostly under control.

Minister Sickler is thankful for the help but says she's now concerned for other area churches and says she hopes the thieves are caught.

"I don't know what their faith is but I know that they and god have something to talk about," said Sickler.

The church is also in the middle of a fundraising campaign to repair its leaky foundation. Church members say that despite the stolen copper pipes, they'll still be raising money for the building work.