There have been two more cases of church air conditioning thefts overnight, this time near Farmville.
Pitt County deputies say St. Peter's Church on Seven Pines Road was struck, along with Union Grove Free Will Baptist Church on California Road. Deputies discovered one of the thefts while on patrol, while a church member found the other.
During the past several months dozens of churches in Pitt, Lenoir, Martin, Jones, Beaufort and Craven counties have either been burglarized or had air conditioning units stolen.
Thursday Martin County deputies charged a man with breaking into five churches. Deputies say Kimothy Harrell was previously arrested October 10th for the break-in at the Christ Temple Missionary Church in Pitt County and deputies tied him to the Martin County cases after searching the man's Robersonville home.
Authorities say Harrell broke into the churches, but did not steal any copper from their HVAC units.
Thieves are stealing air conditioning units from dozens of churches in several counties and law enforcement says it's becoming an epidemic across the East.
The Pitt County Sheriff's office says 9 churches have been hit since July.
Captain Kenneth Watson with the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office says it's become a big problem, "an epidemic," in several counties across the east which are currently looking for the suspects. Investigators are not sure if the thefts are all related.
There have been several reports in Beaufort County of thieves either taking the AC unit completely or just stealing valuable metal, like copper, from inside. The thefts cost churches thousands of dollars and the thieves will probably only get a few hundred dollars when selling the metal to a recycling yard.