Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Pastor Kelvin Jones of Set Free Ministry showed where the copper wiring had been stripped from the back of their church building Monday afternoon.
"It takes the breath out of you," Jones said. "From this point all the way down to the corner of the building, which operates the church, we have no power because all of the copper is gone."
Jones and other church members serve the homeless lunch and dinner every day, but without electricity that has been put on hold. Jones said they hoped to prepare the food at home on Tuesday, but received more bad news.
"We got the electricians and everybody to come over and he came back around with a look on his face and said, ‘they done took it all,’" said Jones.
When News 19 arrived at Set Free Ministry, the Richland County Sheriff's Department was on scene investigating.
According to South Carolina law, both buyers and sellers of copper and other secondary metals need to receive a permit from their local sheriff's department. Destroying property to obtain copper and obtaining a permit to transport or sell stolen copper is illegal.
"It's hard. It hurts when all we try to do is help everybody," Jones said.
While the damage is believed to be extensive, Jones said they are doing everything they can to move forward.
"We won't be discouraged and not help. It's not everybody, just one or two that maybe are making wrong decisions, but it don't change the way we feel about this community and those that we help," Jones said.
Set Free Ministry is located at 6212 Shakespeare Road in Columbia.