Hattiesburg police arrest man for stealing copper from church

Last week police say Clayton Lee decided to make a little extra money by vandalizing Starlight Baptist Church in Hattiesburg.

Lee was accused of stealing a large air-conditioning unit in order to gut it for copper. He was charged with grand larceny and booked in the Forrest County Jail, but later bonded out.

Lee lives across the street from the church and still had the unit in his possession when police found him. Charges are pending for a second unit discovered there.

Hattiesburg Police Department's Public Information Officer Synarus Green said the department does not see a substantial number of copper thefts reported, but just one is enough to put folks on alert.

"It's semi preventable, but there's no 100-percent," said Green.

He recommends some sort of cage or wooden unit, but there are other options.

"If you can't go that route, it's always good to make sure that the unit is visible and clear and there is no debris - overgrown grass or trees around the area."

Green added, "Kinda watch out for each other; if you see anything uncommon or unusual - suspicious behavior, suspicious vehicles, individuals walking behind residences - give us a call; call the police department."