Copper ripped from historic Detroit church, causing $200K in damages

Thieves targeted a Detroit church last week to steal copper gutters - but they also wrecked the roof, causing over $200,000 in damages. 

Father Duane Novelly has been the pastor at St. Matthew Church at Harper and Whittier on Detroit's east side for the last 30 years.

It's his home and the spiritual home for hundreds of families. It's a beacon of light and a sign of hope - that's the mission and motto.

"As a Catholic priest, I must say that this is sinful - and sin is causing chaos," Father Novelly said. "This shouldn't happen to anybody - any business or any private home - but most especially to do it to the house of God, to a church when we are trying to help the needy and take care of the poor in this area."

The thieves hit last week, stealing copper gutters that ran along the side of the church that faces Harper. They not only stole tens of thousands of dollars in copper gutters and downspouts but they also badly damaged the French tile roof.

"We estimate that it's going to be over $200,000 worth of damage," Father Novelly said. "It's a lot of money. Something we cannot afford."

Repairing the roof and replacing the gutters could take months. Right now, though, the immediate concern is to get it sealed before the next rain.

"They don't make churches like this anymore and even the quality of the construction of the church can never be repeated, and it's so unfortunate," said Father Novelly.

He's now hoping that someone will do what's right and help Detroit Police find the criminals responsible.

"They hurt others and they hurt them badly and if justice is to be done and they are caught maybe that will stop them from doing this to other churches or other businesses as well," he said.

If you'd like to make a donation to the church to help with repairs, you can do so via a GoFundMe account