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 additon 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 hear Why Air Conditioner Thefts are Heating Up РTIME.



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