This week San Antonio police busted what they called one of the biggest theft rings they’ve seen in a while. It involved about $35,000 worth of copper being stolen from commercial air conditioning units.
Just how big a problem is copper theft? Do a search for “copper theft” and read article after article from around the country. As you can see fromt the infographic, Texas has the second highest number of copper thefts in the United States. KSAT-TV did a report in March about a copper theft attempt at an elementary school here. The report said places like schools, construction sites, cell phone towers, churches and homes have all been targeted in the past eight months.
Commercial properties seem to get the brunt of the bad news. A friend in Dallas sent Champion AC these photos of a copper theft at his building back in December. The thieves caused $70,000 in damage to get a couple hundred dollars in copper. And they hit every building on the block, causing a similar amount of damage there.
That doesn’t mean homes are in the clear. As we said, thieves have been known to target residential AC systems as well. Ben Hubbert, co-owner of Champion Air Conditioning, has a couple of tips on protecting your home’s air conditioner.
The first thing you can consider is a metal cage for your AC. Companies sell them specifically for air conditioners, and they run anywhere from $300 to $1,000.
Some home security systems allow you to tie your AC unit into your home alarm. If you have a home security system, ask your company to see if that’s possible.
Keep the area around your AC system well-lit.
If you have security cameras at your home, have one focus on your air conditioner. Same goes for business owners.
“We receive frustrated phone calls from commerical clients that have experienced copper theft, ranging from one HVAC unit to fifteen HVAC rooftop units,” said Rick Charney, sales manager at Stealth Monitoring in Dallas. “Stealth has numerous videos where they have caught copper theives trespassing on rooftops and on the exterior of commercial properties.”
A sign on the AC that says “You are being recorded” wouldn’t hurt.
Ben is a retired Combat Controller with the United States Air Force. He started Champion AC in 2007. Ben is originally from the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He is happily married and an avid fan of the San Antonio Spurs and New Orleans Saints.