GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - At first, the senior pastor at the Harbor Lights Fellowship thought there was a power problem at the church’s new building on Grand Island Boulevard.
Gerard Habearsko said, “We happened to notice the lights were off.”
He quickly learned it was a bigger problem.
“National Grid said the wires had been cut and stolen, so somebody had taken approximately 100 to 120 feet of copper wire off our building,” he said.
The Erie County Sheriff’s Office believes someone risked their life to take that wire. Captain Gregory Savage said, “They did in fact cut a live power line.”
He said it’s a common crime and for the thieves, it’s worth the risk.
“Copper is easily sold. It can be sold in scrap yards. It’s very hard to identify and for the people who are doing it I’m sure it’s kind of like their bread and butter,” Capt. Savage explained.
It is, however, rare that someone would target a building that’s in use. Typically copper wire is stolen from places off the beaten path, like abandoned businesses, homes under construction or cell phone towers.
“They’re trying to avoid encountering any people in the building when they’re doing it, what they’re doing takes a little bit of time,” said Capt. Savage.
The Harbor Lights Fellowship hoped this building wouldn’t be empty for long, they want to turn it into a new place to worship, but first they have to turn the lights back on.
Habearsko said, “It sort of sets us back because we are raising finances to renovate and I received my estimate and they said it will be about $3,500 to repair and replace it.”