Man Arrested In Theft of AC Unit From Church

William Bates

A West Fork man is facing a felony charge of theft of property after police said he stole an air conditioning unit from a Prairie Grove church Thursday.

William Bates, 43, was booked in the Washington County Detention Center on Saturday evening and has not had a bond set, according to the Sheriff’s Department website. Bates was arrested Saturday afternoon by Washington County deputies after being identified in a security video, officials said.

A preliminary police report said the pastor at the Illinois Baptist Chapel church told officers a new air conditioning unit had been stolen from behind the church Thursday. The unit was still in the box when it was taken, the report said.

Officers viewed a security video and saw a man and another person, whose identity is redacted, take scrap metal from the church yard before backing up a red pickup truck and loading the air conditioning unit into the bed, the report said. Officers were able to determine the pickup truck’s license plate number from the video, the report said.

Deputies interviewed Bates on Saturday and he admitted taking the scrap metal and air conditioning unit from the church, the report said. The report said Bates told officers he thought the unit was scrap and not a brand-new unit.

The report said Bates wrote a letter of apology to the pastor of the church. The report said the other person in the video told officers he or she was only following Bates’ directions.