Police investigating after $40,000 worth of copper wire stolen from Memphis church

WATCH: Police investigating after $40,000 worth of copper wire stolen from Memphis church

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis police are searching for someone who stole tens of thousands of dollars from a house of worship.

The suspect broke into a building owned by Living Life in Victory Church in Raleigh.

Pastor Henry Lavender said his church had an unexpected and costly setback this week.

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Sometime between Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon, someone broke into the building on Old Austin Peay Highway – a building that was going to be used to help the community.

Church staff discovered the break-in.

“The church is hurt, but we’re not off-focus,” said Lavender. “It hurts real bad to see all that happening.”

Police said the thief cut the alarm system wires before slicing piping from air conditioning units outside.

Now the question is, how did the crook pull off the crime?

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“And the phone line was cut as well, so if the alarm would have gone off,” said Lavender. “Then they wouldn’t have gotten a signal, so they had time to steal – as much time as was needed.”

The thieves got in through a back “roll-up” door.

Once inside, they took as much copper as they could get their hands on, destroying ceiling tiles to access pipes and slamming holes in walls to get to copper piping in three bathrooms.

By the time the burglary was done, there was $40,000 left in theft and damages.

But the real mystery is how the thief pulled off the crime. Officers don’t know how they got away with so much metal.

The door where they came in exited into a fenced area. There is a gap in the gate, but that gate was chained and locked.

Police said any other door in the church requires a key to open from the inside.

Lavender had a message of love and forgiveness for those responsible.

“Hope they have a turnaround,” he said. “And they're welcome to come back Sunday morning service with us. Other than that, we're going to continue to do what we do.”

Since the break-in happened at a building across from the actual sanctuary, Sunday service will not be impacted.