The neighborhood that once filled the pews of St. Augustine is now gone, and the old church sits alone, vulnerable.

I have been truly shocked by how large and bushy the volunteer trees have become. It is only late April and the undergrowth is huge.

Vines have now crept around the flamboyant Gothic elements of the front portal.

And the shear determination, almost insanity, of the men who are pillaging the church never ceases to amaze me, in a truly terrible way. There are plenty of places to steal copper in St. Louis, but for whatever reason, they seem hellbent on destroying this church, even at great personal risk of their own lives.

I’ve seen an old ladder propped up on the roof before, but it seems the thieves have managed to buy (or steal) a much newer ladder to get those last bit of copper flashing.

The ladder is sitting on wiring, presumably originally installed to prevent snow and ice from falling to the ground, and they’ve ripped up some pieces of wood or shingles.

On the other side, that rope, which I presume they use to rappel down to break off more copper, is still hanging from a precarious mounting.

What possesses their devotion to risk their lives in this way? It is a long, fatal distance to the ground.

Closer examination shows other points where the copper has been removed, guaranteeing this church will be a pile of rubble in less than a decade.

Again, there are so much easier places to steal copper–why the determination to steal it here?

Between the open windows, the holes in the roof and missing gutters, water must pour into this church during storms.

Much of the roof is damaged as the copper is ripped out.

The adjoining rectory is still sitting empty, its windows removed.

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Justin says:

    I would guess people are attracted to it because of the sheer amount of copper that can be found in one place. Its a shame how the church has been treated it was in good condition only a few years ago.

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      I get that, but it’s so dangerous to be up that high! Is it really worth it?

      1. Justin says:

        No, but humans are often irrational and value short term gains more than their safety if bodily harm is not perceived as likely.

        1. Thomas F Maher says:

          What Justin wrote …

  2. Tacoto says:

    I figure each side of the front gable had about $100.00 of scrap copper flashing on it that probably took many hours of hard work to remove….5 stories in the air? No thanks, rather work at a restaurant for $5.00 an hour….

    1. Chris Naffziger says:

      Yeah, I think these are just really foolish individuals.

    2. W. White says:

      I think that people are incorrectly analyzing these vandals. These are not people who can simply walk into a business or employment office and state, “I am a responsible member of society, who can hold down a full-time job, who attended and paid attention in school, who is not addicted to illegal drugs, and who is not a felon.” Whoever is doing this to St. Augustine is not like you or me; they are people with no education and no skills beneficial to society, who likely have substantial criminal records for things such as drug dealing, drug using, theft, assault, and any number of other felonious offences. What we see at St. Augustine is the product of people who have no job, have never had a job, and have no interest in getting a job or living life on the straight and narrow and have taken to robbing this church because there are no people left in the area whom they can rob. At least that is my two cents about what is going on.

      1. Chris Naffziger says:

        Oh, I think that analysis is true, but man, there are such safer places for them to do that!

  3. Elsie says:

    What is happening to that church makes me so sad. It stands alone abandoned and so forlorn. Any one who may have once loved it is long gone. And now look at it. Desecration indeed.

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