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A/C Theft Protection

Updated on September 3, 2016
This is all that is left
This is all that is left | Source

Unfortunately, there is a need today to protect your home and surrounding area from theft and vandalism. Many people do not even realize that there is a high price being paid for copper and thieves have no problems taking what you have in order to get a financial gain. While the amount gained from one unit is not much, thieves have a lot to gain when going from home to home stealing copper from air conditioning units in less time than you think, copper thieves can have your air conditioning unit dismantled, leaving you in a terrible mess.

  • Who is affected

As a homeowner, you just do not think something like this can happen to you. However, thieves do not discriminate when it comes to taking what they want. It is not unheard of for churches, homes, schools or businesses to fall victim to copper thieves. While the thieves are likely to gain less than $75 from the copper obtained from a typical air conditioning unit, the owner will need to pay nearly $2,500 to recoup their loss.

It is important for the homeowner to realize that the prevention of this type of theft is less expensive than the replacement of their loss. There are a few different options to consider when thinking about loss prevention. Some are more expensive as well as more effective than others.

Scrap copper prices
Scrap copper prices

Ever Changing Copper Prices

Copper prices have been on the rise globally for the last 7 years, and only recently have they shown a slight decline. History will only tell where the spot price of copper will be this time next year or in a few months for that matter. When the USA as a country only produces about 7% of the copper needed to feed global demand, we ourselves become players in the copper commodity market and pay prices for copper that are reflective of that. If the emerging world countries as well as China are still growing demand will remain, keeping the spot price steady or increasing. As our economy remains stagnant and copper prices remain high the correlation spells trouble for all those owning an exposed air conditioner unit.

Air conditioner cage
Air conditioner cage

Ways To Protect Your A/C Unit

  • Obstruct the view of your A/C

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to help prevent air conditioning vandalism and theft is by obstructing the view of the unit. By decreasing the unit's visibility from passersby, the homeowner can help protect their property. However, the homeowner must realize that while this is the least expensive protection for their unit, it is also the least effective as the shrubbery that is used to conceal the unit from prying eyes may very well be used by the thieves as a cover for their wrong doings. Using shrubbery to help hide the unit can also be bothersome as ample space must be left around the air conditioner for general operation of the unit, repairs and maintenance.

  • Moving the unit

Taking the time and effort to move the unit to another location that is better hidden may also be an option for some homeowners. However, much like using shrubbery to conceal the unit, moving it to another location could offer the thieves more privacy to do their dirty deeds. If the unit is moved, its new location should be easily visible from inside of the house where the homeowner can monitor any activity around it. This can be an very expensive proposition compared to the amount of security you might gain and still does not protect the unit when you are not there.

  • Install motion detectors

Installing motion-detector lighting near the unit is another inexpensive way for the homeowner to try to protect their investment. However, this lighting can be troublesome as animals can trigger the lighting to go off. Wind, tree limbs, falling leaves and power outages can also hinder the operation of the motions. This can leave the homeowner continually checking on the unit every time the lights are triggered.

  • Alarms and surveillance

The increase of theft and vandalism of air conditioning units has led to the creation of air conditioner gps units, alarms as well as surveillance cameras. While the alarm and gps works to alert the homeowner of a possible theft, and the surveillance camera will catch the perpetrators on video, the damage is already done. While these are very effective methods of protecting the air conditioner and home, it does come with a large price tag which does not make it a very cost effective method of protection. Monthly service and monitoring fees are usually associated with these which puts it out of reach financially for most homeowners.

Air conditioner cage
Air conditioner cage
  • Air conditioner cages

The most effective method of protection for an air conditioning unit is having a metal air conditioner cage installed on the unit. Air conditioner cage offer protection not only against theft and vandalism, but also against weather elements such as tornadoes and hurricanes. These types of cages also provide that barrier of physical protection that other loss protection devices can’t provide. These cages can also be aesthetically pleasing as well, which makes them a welcome addition to the outside of the home. Made of thick gauge steel, these cages can offer strength and durability against both the weather and the bad guys.

  • Keep airflow around your unit

Airflow around the air conditioning unit is a must and using air conditioner cages will allow the units to breath. This protection will help to prolong the life of the unit as blocked airflow can cause the unit's condenser to stop working and in the end, cause the unit to no longer work and need replacement. With this being said, it can be determined that the use of air conditioner cages can help keep the unit up and running properly for a long time.

  • Why a cage is your first choice

Because these cages are constructed with thick metal, they are nearly impossible to remove or destroy. This is a major deterrent to the thief because they do not want to take the extra time and effort needed to break through the cage in order to obtain the copper from the unit that they desire. Remember, most AC unit theft is a crime of opportunity, taking away that opportunity is what it’s all about. If the homeowner has decided to install an alarm and surveillance camera, the cage will also offer protection to this alarm system, keeping them there long enough to get that perfect photo or video. On average most units not caged can be removed in 5 minutes or less leaving little time for reaction.

It is vital that when choosing a cage, that steel is the material that was used to construct it. While polymer and aluminum constructed cages can offer some protection, the homeowner must ensure that it cannot be cut or sawed through quickly. Make sure the steel cage that is constructed will not allow anyone to reach through and into the secure area. Using an expanded metal type application that will provide protection but not restrict airflow is ideal for this use. Overall for this application steel products are arguably the best choice.

Although there are several options for a homeowner to protect their air conditioning unit, the use of an air conditioner cage is very likely the best choice. Different situations may require multiple security devices at and around your AC unit but for full and proper protection an air conditioner cage is a must and additions to your AC security should start from there. A cage offers an increased amount of security that all of the other methods of protection fall short of. Not only is it strong and durable, it is also a welcome addition to the looks of the outside of the home.

Your Opinion Matters

Which type of A/C unit security would better protect you? Tell me a little about your choice in the comments section below.

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Leave a comment or let us know about your poll choice here.

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    • FBohman profile image

      Fred Bohman 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Security is definitely an expense homeowners should be thinking about proactively and not re-actively. Otherwise you are paying over double the price after the fact. Great post!

      For your poll I choose a combination of security because having one or the other may make you a target. By having a slightly higher presence of security than others, thieves will move on to an easier target. Which leads to my next point, your neighborhood as a whole should be fighting theft.