Nowhere is sa­cred when it comes to cop­per thieves

The Herald (South Africa) - - News - Bongani Mthethwa

Thieves struck the St Cyprian’s Angli­can Church three times in a week‚ steal­ing cop­per plat­ing from the roof.

It seems even the most sa­cred places are not im­mune to the spi­ralling crime in Dur­ban’s Um­bilo sub­urb‚ which has seen a spike in house rob­beries‚ mug­gings and car theft.

On Wed­nes­day last week‚ thieves hit the church‚ steal­ing cop­per from the roof sheet­ing.

They struck again just six days later‚ steal­ing more cop­per from the roof on Tues­day night – and re­turned for more the fol­low­ing day.

The theft has frus­trated rec­tor Fa­ther Dane Elsworth be­cause it has left the church with hun­dreds of rands worth of dam­age.

The or­gan‚ worth R3m‚ was also dam­aged be­cause of a leak­ing roof as a re­sult of the cop­per theft.

“The dam­age runs into hun­dreds of rands, but no­body cares‚” Elsworth said.

“I did not even know that there was cop­per up there. Some­body was very clued up.”

He also blamed the po­lice for not tak­ing ac­tion when he opened a case af­ter the first in­ci­dent.

“Why don’t the po­lice have time to deal with th­ese things?

“This whole area is out of con­trol – it’s hi­jack­ings‚ armed rob­beries‚ theft‚” Elsworth said.

The thieves also stole cop­per from the top of the lower drains on the walls of the church’s his­toric build­ing‚ which was built in 1939.

The thieves have be­come so brazen that church mem­bers are forced to take their hand­bags with them when they go for com­mu­nion for fear of them be­ing stolen.

Po­lice spokesper­son Col Them­beka Mbele con­firmed that a group had bro­ken into the church on Wed­nes­day last week and dam­aged elec­tri­cal wires‚ a switch box and lights.

Places of wor­ship have be­come soft tar­gets for crim­i­nals.

In Oc­to­ber, R50‚000 was stolen dur­ing a church ser­vice in Phoenix‚ north of Dur­ban‚ when men armed with AK47s and pis­tols stormed the church.

Pic­ture: JACKIE CLAUSEN

HEAV­ENS ABOVE: Fa­ther Dane Elsworth looks up at the dam­age caused to the St Cyprian’s Angli­can Church

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