A 52-year-old man and his 25-year-old girlfriend are facing charges after allegedly stealing the copper drainpipes from different church buildings in Belgium. The Court of Halle-Vilvoorde is prosecuting a couple for a series of 17 separate copper thefts in late 2018, according to reports in local media.
“I don’t steal from regular people, but the Church has more than enough money,” the woman stated during her interrogation by the police. “A week after our theft at one church, there were new pipes already. So we stole them again,” she added.
The couple operated across three different police zones between August and November of last year. “The suspects came into the picture when one of them was filmed, as was their getaway car,” the Public Prosecutor said, reports VRT News. “The investigation into their telephone traffic that followed linked the defendants to the incidents.”
The 560 kilograms of copper pipes were sold to a metals trader for 2,200 euros, according to VRT News. In addition, the suspects are also being prosecuted for two acts of electricity theft, because they tapped electricity for their caravan. The man, who is a repeat offender, risks two years of prison. His girlfriend is obligated to do 150 hours of community service.
Both defendants admit their part in the crime. “The man has been living on a sickness benefit pay for two years, but had to support his girlfriend and her child,” says the Public Prosecutors office. “Since she did not have 45 euros to pay for the renewal of her identity card, she couldn’t apply for benefits. That’s why they started committing copper thefts.”
“My client was blinded by love and realises that he was in the wrong. We ask the Court to be mild,” argued the man’s lawyer, Cécile Kenis.
The Public Prosecutor’s office, however, denounced the woman’s attitude. “Her priorities were obviously not set right. With 45 euros she could have all her paperwork sorted and ask for an allowance. She did not do that, but she chose to spend 100 euros a day on cocaine.”
A verdict on their case is expected on April 29.
The Brussels Times