Crimetracker - Air Conditioner Thefts

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Tueday, June 19, 2012

It's hot enough outside, but imagine having your air conditioning unit stolen right from your home. It's a growing crime trend in Hutchinson. Police there hope neighbors can play a part in helping stop the thieves.

"I told my son, I said 'Honey, there's something wrong with our air conditioner,'" said Geri Wise. "He came back in and he said 'No, nothing wrong with our air conditioner - just not there."

Geri Wise couldn't believe it after thieves made their way behind her east Hutchinson home and stole her entire central air conditioning unit.

"They just took the whole thing. They cut the wire some way, they told me, and took everything... nothing, nothing left," she said.

A couple miles away, Orville Scantlin also knows the pain. In the last two months, he's had three air conditioning units taken from his rental homes.

"Somebody broke out the two glasses below it, took it all... someone that was junking," said Scantlin.

Hutchinson police say these thieves have stolen 53 air conditioning units in the last 18 months. Hutchinson Police Sgt. Paul Sack says the payoff hardly seems worth it.

"For the amount of work they are doing they are doing, they may be getting $30 to $50 total for each unit. It's quite a risk for that little money in their pocket," said Sack.

Sack says the thieves are selling the copper and metal at area salvage yards. He wants owners of those businesses to watch for repeat customers. He also asks the public to keep an eye on rental properties and homes for sale.

"If someone is canvassing the neighborhood and driving by several times to try to figure out whether this house or apartment is vacant, they may be able to get someone tipped off before theft happens," he said.

To keep from becoming a victim yourself, police recommend you either install security cameras or motion detector lights near your air conditioner. Those tools could act as a deterrent to thieves.

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