AC Thefts in the News

Recent arrest made in Charlotte County

“Charlotte County Sheriff’s detectives have arrested a man they say stole four air conditioning units from homes, and may be responsible for a total of 20 A/C thefts.

Harbeson admitted that he stole several units and scrapped them at a recycler in Whidden Industrial Park, and agreed to point out locations where he stole 20 additional units, copper and aluminum pool equipment.

“They destroyed over $5,000 worth of equipment,” said Edward Knight, one of the victims.

Knight has to foot the bill for those pricey repairs – something air conditioning companies say isn’t fair to the customers.

But according to deputies, Harbeson stole and stripped about 20 AC units for copper and made off with hundreds of dollars in profits.

“The guys look like they were very professional because they didn’t just take the unit, they just took what was worth the money,” Tijerana said.

So how can you protect your air conditioner from theft? We found out some tricks of the trade.

“The cages are designed to prevent or actually deter units from being stolen,” said Barry Mitchell, a salesman at Tropics Supplies.

Though, he was quick to point out that the cages cannot provide 100-percent assurance nothing will happen to your AC unit.

“If they want it bad enough, they’re going to cut the cage loose and take the cage with them as extra scrap money,” he said.

But he says some protection is better than none and it could cost several hundred dollars.

If you’re the only one in the neighborhood with a cage, chances are they’re going to go after someone else that they can grab and run,” he said.

Read the full article here:  Arrest made in Charlotte County A/C thefts – WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida.

Copper stolen from church in Fort Myers, FL as recently reported by NBC news..

Yesterday he learned one of the AC units at his church, North Shore Alliance Church, had been torn apart.

“The other two they hit, they only took the copper from they didn’t take the coil from the middle.”

Copper pipes had been pulled from the wall.

Reporter Sarah Pusateri says, “What makes the situation worse is that this is not just a church but a daycare, affecting a lot of little lives as well.”

“We’ve had to shuffle our kids around the church all week because there is no air out here.”

He’s not alone.

Statistics from the lee county sheriff’s office show that 10 churches and religious centers have been targeted since March many within just a few miles from North Shore Alliance.

Shocking both religious leaders,

Read full article here: Church AC Thefts on the rise Fort Myers.

A/C theft on the rise since 2006 as reported by Time.

“While the copper coils that were stolen were worth about $1,200 in the scrap market, Smith’s company will spend $29,000 on replacement ACs. The crime took 30 minutes; it will take a full week to fill out insurance forms, rent cranes, and replace units.

The most vulnerable seem to be new properties. Thirty half-built homes in a new development bordering the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort in Birmingham have lost copper plumbing pipes. Thieves are snatching metals in daylight on job sites. “We put it in on Monday and had to replace it by Wednesday,” said Matthew Graves, production manager for Mainline Heating & Air Conditioning in Birmingham.

And with copper prices at a nearly two-decade high, the criminals plundering anything and everything they can get their hands on are even risking their lives. Larry Dory, 45, of Dallas was killed July 14 while trying to strip live electrical wire off a utility pole. In addition to the 240 to 460 volts in air conditioners, potential dangers include the inhalation of Freon, a refrigerant illegal to release into the atmosphere. “That’s a crime in and of itself with the EPA,” said J. D. Points, vice president of Dalco.

Prosecuting these acts is not easy. One problem is the inability to track copper parts and tie them to an offense. Hernandez recommends spray painting or etching copper pipes for identity purposes. Meanwhile, companies like American Scrap Metal in Dallas check photo IDs and turn away scrap that looks too new. Birmingham’s Standard Heating & Air Conditioning Co. and Dalco are even starting to attach alarms to AC units. That may sound drastic until you realize that in the South air conditioners are a life or death issue. “Without air conditioning, nobody would live in this hell hole,” said Points.”

Read the full article here: Why Air Conditioner Thefts are Heating Up – TIME.