Broward Sheriff’s Office warned home and business owners about a new item being targeted for thefts: air conditioning units.
The rise in metal prices has caused thefts in not just air conditioning units but in all types of metal products including storm shutters even storm drains, authorities said. More than 50 reports such thefts have been reported recently, said the sheriff’s office.
Deputies said Amos Issac has been arrested and charged with prowling, grand theft, possession of burglary tools, and taking copper or metal. Amos is just one of many who are stealing to get metals to sell them to scrap yards for cash, said Sgt. Richard La Cerra.
“He’s seen in the video stripping the ac unit from the business—takes all the copper, all the metal off of it and leaves,” said La Cerra.
In the video, police said, he is seen stripping a unit from the business and taking off all the metals and fleeing with them, leaving the unit behind.
“So if you have these parts taken out of your air conditioner you have to replace the whole thing? Sometimes between $3,500 and $5,000 for residential, and if its commercial it can be up to $10,000,” La Cerra said.
In another case, Deacon Joseph Johnson’s church has to manage without air conditioning in some rooms after the five units were stolen. Some of them were even chained and bolted down, but it didn’t matter, the thieves made multiple trips to rob.
“We got some big chains and put some padlocks on it and everything and Monday evening we come back and this was gone,” Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, these criminals are a little ahead of us sometimes and they are bypassing the chains and pealing back the covers and taking the unit and leaving the home owner in the lurch,” La Cerra said.
For more information on how to stay safe click here.
Published at 5:33 PM EDT on Aug 17, 2011