Lawmen say someone is targeting churches in a five county area, mainly stealing copper from their air conditioning units.
Lenoir County deputies say the rash of thefts have happened at churches in Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne, Craven and Duplin counties during the past two months. So far several dozen churches have been hit.
Investigators have learned that thieves have been able to remove the copper from inside the air conditioning units, making it look like the units still work. In other cases the entire unit has been hauled off.
Detectives believe a utility type van or pickup truck is being used in the thefts.
Deputies are asking that if anyone sees any suspicious activity around rural churches they should call 911 immediately.