Richland County sheriff’s deputies say copper thieves have hit nine churches in the southeastern part of the South Carolina county since the beginning of the year.
Officials estimate it will cost more than $100,000 to replace the damaged air conditioning units.
The thieves also have hit several homes and businesses in the Eastover and Hopkins areas.
Six air conditioning units were destroyed outside the St. John Baptist Church in Hopkins on March 15. Officials with the 128-year-old church say it will cost more than $30,000 to replace the units.
Copper thefts dropped after a new law two years ago that requires those selling copper to get a permit from their local sheriff. Transporting stolen copper can result in a 10-year prison sentence.
Deputies say there continue to be flare-ups of copper thefts.