JASPER COUNTY, Mo. — A local nonprofit is out thousands of dollars after two HVAC units were stolen.

Restored Ministries is working on its first transitional home. It’s been renovating the former Asbury Baptist Church when the thefts happened.

“We still plan on opening as soon as possible, but it’s definitely going to set us back,” said Darren Wallace, Restored Ministries Financial Director.

Since February, Restored Ministries has been converting the former Asbury Baptist Church into 7-unit transitional housing.

“We are gonna take people who are stuck in poverty and just give them a chance. Instead of rent, we are going to teach them how to budget. We help them maybe go back to school. We do everything we can to get them on the other side of the poverty line,” said Wallace.

The nonprofit is now out of pocket $10,000 for two insurance claims after one unit was stolen on June 14th and the second unit was stolen on Monday, June 27th.

“Instead of focusing on building more apartments indoors, now we gotta take some time out and install a couple of A/C units and we have to install security cameras, motion lights, and we are gonna have to find a way to secure our A/C units so it doesn’t happen in the future,” said Wallace.

Jasper County authorities say thieves target abandoned buildings or churches for copper.

“We’ve noticed as the price of copper or scrap metal goes up, we get more thefts and stuff like that,” said Chief Deputy Derek Walrod, Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, “they’ll strip it down. Usually, they are trying to get the copper or metals to scrap. What’s sad is, they generally do more damage than they’re gonna get out of an air conditioning unit.”

He says residents should keep an eye out for suspicious activity.

Restored Ministries tells us this theft could delay its end-of-August opening.