Copper Theft, How Can it be Avoided?

The theft of metals to be sold as scrap has escalated over the past few years as a result of difficult economic times. Abandoned homes are the usual targets as thieves strip siding from the outside and any copper pipes and anything else of value that might be found inside the house. However, with increasing prices for scrap metal not all thieves are sticking with abandoned houses.

Incidents of air conditioning theft are on the rise with thieves tearing units apart where they sit and cutting out the copper tubing inside. The copper is then sold to scrap yards at up to $3 per pound and since the metal is difficult to trace there is little law enforcement can do. Unless the thief is caught in the act, chances are good they will escape with the copper, realizing a slight return for their efforts and the homeowner is left with a ruined air conditioner.

There are steps a homeowner can take to guard against air conditioner theft and many air conditioning contractors can help them determine which method is best for their individual circumstance. From using a cage around the unit to having it equipped with an alarm, steps can be taken to stop or at least deter the thieves.

image from securityinfowatch.com
image from securityinfowatch.com

One method of securing a home or business’s air conditioning unit is with a full metal cage. It completely surrounds the unit making it difficult for thieves to get to the vital parts inside. Since most units sit on a solid pad outside the home the cage can be secured to the pad as well making entry into the housing nearly impossible. Air conditioner cages are fairly easy to install, but will have an effect on the aesthetics of the area.

A more comprehensive method of air conditioning theft prevention is through installation of an alarm. Similar to home and business alarms the unit can be configured to detect if the electrical lines are cut, the refrigerant lines are cut or if the unit loses power. The basic alarm system will sound a local siren when the unit is tampered with. More expensive systems can be connected to the home’s burglar alarm and while sounding a local alarm will also automatically dial an alarm response company.

Many believe an alarm is the best way to stop damage to the systems but they will require professional installation. Additional wiring will also be needed and can be a costly addition to the price of protecting the home. Unlike the air conditioner cages that can be installed by anyone able to use a few tools, an alarm system is much more technologically complex.

One simple method that may help deter theft of air conditioner parts is to not hide them behind bushes or shrubs in the dark corners of the home. Many units have been placed out of sight or hidden behind trees or small buildings outside the home to make a better appearance. However, hiding them also provides thieves the time needed to do their work without being spotted.

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safiq ali patel profile image

safiq ali patel 3 years ago from United States Of America

In some towns and cities metal thefts have become an industry almost. People who own buildings and such things replace their copper and metals only to find that just a short time later the copper of metal has been stolen again.

These tend to be things like cables, copper pipes and lead from building roofs. The metals are taken to a recycling company by the thieves and sold off. It is quite a large scale scam. Here in the United Kingdom the government a trying to bring in legislation to prevent this sort of racketeering of metals. Stealing metal parts seems to have become very popular especially among some teenagers. Interesting hub.

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