$30,000 loss: Thieves take New Brighton church’s solar panels


More than a dozen solar panels were stolen from the roof of United Church of Christ in New Brighton sometime in early September. The church said the total loss was around $30,000. Congregants first noticed something was wrong when they continued to find metal and wires around the church. photo Solomon Gustavo

After a few days of congregants and staff at United Church of Christ in New Brighton finding metal and wiring laying around the church, they discovered Sept. 6 that more than a dozen solar panels had been taken from the church’s roof.

Sometime around Labor Day weekend, 22 3-foot by 5-foot solar panels were disconnected atop the place of worship. Thirteen were stolen and nine were left on the roof. Over 20 panel optimizers were also missing from the church, which is located in the 1000 block of Long Lake Road.

An estimate for the cost of replacing the panels hasn’t been made. In the police report filed by the church to New Brighton Public Safety, the total loss related to the stolen and damaged panels, wiring and optimizers was estimated at $30,000. 

United Church of Christ staff said the church did not lose power. The solar panels lower the amount of energy the church uses from the city’s power grid. Without the panels, the church went back on the grid and ordinary operations continued. 

Some congregants and staff said they believe the solar panels were targeted as scrap metal, and that the thief was able to go onto the roof unnoticed because the church has trees in front and no neighbors behind, and because it was a holiday weekend. 

One staffer said the church will look into investing into security sensors when replacing the solar panels. Another staffer said churchgoers were worried about the thief, who they feel must have acted out of desperation. 

 

— Solomon Gustavo

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