Air Conditioning Thefts – What You Need To Know

As the weather heats up more and more people are turning to their air conditioner for help cooling off. But in many situations recently the air conditioner is nowhere to be found. It turns out that one of the major materials used in AC units is copper, which can be easily removed and sold to junkyards. As a consequence, criminals are stealing air conditioners or breaking the units apart, taking the copper, and selling it for $50 to $100 a pop. There are situations of this kind of theft all over the news.

In Florida, over 6 small businesses in Lee County were vandalized for their AC units. The thieves broke apart between 18 and 24 units, taking the copper coils and scattering the rest of the parts in other places.

In Arizona, thieves stole an air conditioning system from a Mesa United Way organization that provides clothes and other necessities to foster kids. The program’s CEO Dan Wollam would have had to cut programs had a local air conditioning repair and service company not donated a $10,000 AC unit.

In Texas, a Corpus Christi church lost two air conditioning units to theft this month. As did several homeowners in York, Pennsylvania. The costs of a substitute AC unit typically run over $1,000 although in some situations an thoroughly new system is required, which is far more expensive. This is in addition to another cost, of course-people victimized by air conditioner theft have to suffer by the scorching summer heat. And in many situations it seems, the victim of theft is an organization or business with its air conditioning units on the outside of the structure.

So what measures can be taken to prevent this crime? In many situations, it is all too easy for criminals to vandalize an air conditioner for its copper parts. For why else would they include in a crime with a payoff of only $50 to $100 dollars? By making it just a little more difficult for robbers, it should be possible to deter one from taking advantage of your AC unit placement. One solution is a motion-detection sensor. Most robberies take place at night, when people are sleeping. If a light shines on the perpetrator, chances are they will do what anyone caught red-handed would do… run. A second solution is to obtain a wrought iron cage to protect the unit, or to obtain it with a padlock. clearly it is difficult to remove a cage or lock, and any difficulty will make it less likely that a robber will take your AC unit. Any of these measures can be worth it if there have been a string of robberies in your town. Remember. The cost of protecting your air conditioner is low. But the cost of replacing your AC can run over $1,000.

One more development worth noting is that some law enforcement organizations are trying to better track AC copper thefts. In Norway, South Carolina, for example, the police department is giving away a spray paint with which people can mark their AC units. The paint is invisible to the eye, but can help officers clarify stolen copper from air conditioning units. Hopefully, this tactic and others can begin to deter a crime which is so often undertaken at the expense of struggling homeowners, local businesses, and non-profit organizations.

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