Air Conditioner Theft and Scrap Copper: Are You at Risk?

Air Conditioner Theft and the Rising Value of Scrap Copper


Air conditioner theft has become a popular crime in recent years, due to increasing payouts for scrap copper recycling. If you’ve recently upgraded your air conditioning system or heat pump, you’re smart – you’ve kept your electric bill from picking your pocket. Energy-saving equipment is a great money saver. However, there may be another costly problem of which you’re unaware, depending on the location of your unit. Air Conditioning theft has become a major issue in recent years, with your outside condensing unit an attractive target for thieves.

Air Conditioning theft has been prompted by the rising value of copper. Your outside unit contains quite a bit of copper in the condensing coils. Depending on the equipment, thieves could pick up $80 or more by selling the copper at a recycling center. Unfortunately, it costs your insurance company or you considerably more to replace that $80 gain from AC theft. Thieves can back a truck up to your equipment, cut the connections and have your unit loaded in minutes. You may never know it’s gone until the temperature starts going up in your Florida home.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself from AC thieves. A steel cage bolted down around your unit can deter theft. A copper thief wants to move quickly and a cage that has to be removed before gaining access to your heat pump or AC tends to make them move on to easier pickings. These cages can be unlocked to allow maintenance on the unit and won’t block necessary airflow. A second method of protection is an alarm system. Once the power and refrigerant lines are cut, an alarm triggers, causing the thief to panic and leave. These alarms are also capable of calling the owner by cell phone once an attempted theft has occurred.

Just where you install your outside AC unit can help deter theft. If you live on a well-trafficked street, install the condensing unit within clear view of the street. But if you live in an isolated area, it probably makes more sense to keep your condensing unit out of sight, protected by a fence if possible.

If you would like more information on protecting your equipment from Air Conditioning theft, contact us at Gulf Coast Air Systems. We’ll be happy to help you keep your Tampa area home or business AC unit safe.

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