The global demand for copper, combined with the economic and home foreclosure crisis, is creating an increase in copper-theft crimes.
Theft of air conditioning units has become increasingly popular and is on the rise because of the copper and aluminum contained within them. The units are being stolen entirely or by unscrewing the top and removing the guts and leaving behind the metal casing. Residential air conditioning unit thefts are easy prey occurring during the day when no one is home and also at night when people are asleep. In most cases the thieves can get away in a matter of minutes.
Current economic conditions, such as the rising cost of gasoline, food, and consumer goods, the declining housing market, the ease through which copper is exchanged for cash, and the lack of any significant deterrent, make it likely that copper thefts will remain a lucrative business for criminals.
Let's talk about what you as a homeowner can do to protect your home from this type of theft. These tips may not guarantee that you will not experience vandalism or theft to your air conditioning unit, but they will certainly help deter a thief from targeting your home.
Lighting. Install floodlights or motion-sensing lights near the air conditioning unit.
Padlock & Chain. Secure the air conditioning unit to the house with a padlock and chain.
Metal Cage. There are companies now that sell cages that you can enclose your air conditioning unit into. Air conditioner cages can run a couple hundred dollars but compared to the cost of replacing your air conditioner this can be a worthwhile expense.
Alarm. With the rise of thefts new air conditioner unit alarms have been introduced into the market. These alarms will alert a homeowner if a unit is being tampered with. These will cost you a bit more than a metal cage but again compared to the cost of totally replacing an a/c unit, this is still an economical solution.
Fence. You can install a padlocked fence around the unit. Just make sure you have allowed enough room for a service technician to get to the unit for regular maintenance or repair.
Obstruction. You can hide the unit behind shrubs or a small fence. Again you need to make sure that the obstruction does not make it difficult to get to the unit for regular maintenance or repair.
Moving A/C Unit. You can have your air conditioning unit moved to a more secure place in your yard. Try to move it to a spot that is not as accessible to someone or more visible from inside your home.