NEW ORLEANS - Members of a Central City congregation stepped out of service into the heat and humidity on Sunday.
But two weeks ago, "We were getting ready for at least 60 or 70 children to come to be a part of the vacation bible school," said Pastor Lilton McQuarter Sr., and a deacon realized there was no air conditioning in the church.
"He found out that the air conditioner had been stripped of all the copper," he said.
Thieves had struck the church, taking the copper to a nearby scrap yard.
It was one of eight copper thefts reported to New Orleans police in recent weeks, four of them at churches.
"I believe that if a person don't have respect for the church, then they don't have respect for nobody else," McQuarter said.
Not only were the thieves so brazen that they hit three churches in the neighborhood, but they hit the pastor's twice.
Luckily at the same time, an observant witness in the area reported seeing something strange.
The witness stated, "I did see a white BMW driving around kind of just hanging out and it was a little bit out of place, gave us the license plate number so you know it was a black guy and a white guy and they looked kind of odd," according to Det. Sgt. Sabrina Richardson of the NOPD's Sixth District.
Police used their license plate scanner to see whether that car had been in the area.
The scanner is mounted underneath the lights of a cruiser.
"We put that license plate number into our license plate reader that we have now and sure enough, it had been scanned several times in that district in that area," Richardson said.
Police tracked down Floyd Williams, 28, and when they arrested him he confessed to all eight thefts.
There is also a second suspect in the case.
"I think in those cases they're gonna have to answer to a higher judge than the ones at Tulane and Broad Street," Richardson said.
The scrap yard confirmed Williams' story, police said.
The NOPD is expecting an arrest of the second suspect soon.