CLEVELAND – A Mt. Pleasant church is asking the public for help after it was struck by thieves over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Pastor Mark Smith, of the Sanctuary Baptist Church on E. 131 st St. in Cleveland, said Saturday afternoon they discovered someone had gutted a brand new HVAC American Standard professional unit, one of five the church just replaced about six months ago.
“Needless to say it kind of knocked me off if you would. It made me a little kiltered if you would,” said Smith.
That’s because he said the church had just paid about $35,000 dollars to replace all five of their air conditioning and heating units after vandals struck over the summer. One of the units was ripped right out of a vent that fed into the church’s central area.
Pastor Smith showed NewsChannel5 the vent saying when he stood under it during service, the light shined right on him, “There was absolutely nothing up there at all, except a hole in the roof.”
Now, there’s an empty box where one of the new units is supposed to be. The problem, the gutted unit heated a community room that on Christmas Day, is supposed to host dozens of families. It also hosts community meetings with people including their local council member.
Church leaders were stunned to learn their building was vandalized again. “…especially this time of year, very disappointed. Especially the fact that we only had six months of use out of them, we just went through this,” said Smith.
Donations and insurance money helped them pay for the new units. Now with one gutted, they’re not sure how they’ll pay for another. But Smith said his concern is it could happen again. He and other members are now patrolling the church on their own to help protect the building.
From the community, Smith is asking neighbors to be vigilant. He’s also asking local businesses to be honest. “I would hope that that vendor, that scrap yard vendor who sees that would refuse this individual the right to come into his facility and take on the items that he’s just brought to him.”
Since the units above the central area of the church were not vandalized, service was still held Sunday.
Anyone with information is asked to call police.
Article, Picture and Video Courtesy of WEWS NewsChannel 5