Tahlequah Daily Press

October 7, 2013

Investigators want help in stolen AC case

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators are asking for the public’s help in solving a case of air conditioners that were stolen from a local school and church.

Members of the Clear Creek Freewill Baptist Church in Hulbert reported two of the church’s two-ton AC units stolen on Sept. 29. James Points told Deputy Charlie Dreadfulwater that members noticed the church was heating up during service last Sunday, and later discovered the two units were gone.

Then on Monday, just miles away from the church, Shady Grove School Superintendent Fred Ferguson told Deputy Roger Fine that a suspect spray-painted the cameras outside the school Sept. 27, at about 10:50 p.m.

The cameras were then turned toward a wall, and three AC units were  apparently stolen.

A suspect seen in the video footage was wearing a hooded shirt and mask.

Investigators know the thefts have left both the school and church facing large expenses.

“Each air unit cost several thousand dollars,” said Sheriff’s Sgt. Casey Baker.

Investigators have checked local salvage yards for the units, but have been unable to locate them.

They plan to check other local businesses in hopes of tracking them down.

“It’s a large blow to this church and school,” said Sheriff’s Investigator James Brown.

“These are going to cost them thousands of dollars to replace, and even with insurance, it’s a big hit.”

Because of the size and weight of the air units, investigators suspect more than one person is involved in hauling the items away – and they likely loaded the units onto a trailer to remove them.

Deputies are asking anyone with information about the thefts to call Brown, Baker or Undersheriff Jason Chennault at (918) 456-2583.

They also urge county residents who see anything suspicious to immediately notify law enforcement.