Members of Bushnell Congregational Church in Detroit catch scrappers in the act

Church says scrappers have damaged the building

Scrapping has long been an issue in the city of Detroit, and it seems the coronavirus pandemic is aiding in its comeback.

DETROIT – Scrapping has long been an issue in the city of Detroit and it seems the coronavirus pandemic is aiding in its comeback.

Some members of a church on Detroit’s west side refused to let scrappers target their place of worship again.

The Bushnell Congregational Church has a rich and storied history in Detroit.

The building itself is on the state’s historic registry. They held weekly services and other community outreach, but the COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down. That’s when scrappers started hitting the place.

Scrappers tore all the cables out. Pastor Phillip Sims said you now need a flashlight to walk the hallways.

“It has been very frustrating to come in on a Sunday morning. No lights, no heat, you know?” Sims said.

There is also no running water because scrappers yanked out all the copper pipes. They dismantled the boiler and left insulation covers on the floor.

Church members would sleep overnight there in an attempt to catch scrappers, but were unable to cover every night. That’s when the scrappers would strike again.

Early Tuesday morning, two church members -- James Washington and Ramashu Iyi -- came armed to the church and heard a terrible banging. Scrappers were pulling the mens room apart.

The men held the scrappers against a wall and patted them down to check for weapons. They found a little stun gun, they said. They said they talked to the scrappers, and explained to them how their actions are impacting the community.

Detroit police arrived and arrested the two scrappers. They found a cell phone belonging to one of the men that had pictures of other buildings the scrappers hit. They were selling the pipes online.

Detroit police said the church hadn’t reported the damage to them over the past month.

A warrant request was sent to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office in the case. The men could be charged with breaking and entering into an occupied building.

The scrappers are still in police custody, police said.

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About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.