Local News

Alarms on HVAC units can prevent copper theft

Posted February 5, 2013 11:25 p.m. EST
Updated February 5, 2013 11:55 p.m. EST

— Raleigh police say copper wire thefts are on an upswing in early 2013, and many businesses are installing alarms on their heating and cooling units to prevent the costly replacements and repairs.

Ryan Woodard of the Joseph C. Woodard Printing Company said thieves have repeatedly stolen copper from the company's heating and cooling system. After filing multiple insurance claims to cover the thefts, Woodard worries his insurance policy will be dropped.

"It feels like you're being victimized twice," he said. 

To prevent the thefts, Woodard recently installed an alarm on his air conditioning unit that automatically dispatches police when thieves pull the power plug. There is also a silent alarm option, which was responsible for Raleigh officers catching a thief red-handed last month, police said, because he had no idea he tripped the alarm.

HVAC repairman Clay Ewing said, at $600, the alarms are expensive, but they're cheaper than repairing or replacing a damaged unit.

He said his company, Allen Kelly & Company, has been busy in recent weeks replacing heating and cooling systems that have been stripped of copper wire.

"What they're after is that copper that's inside the coil, so they're literally ripping the top off this unit, cutting it out and taking that coil to the scrap yard," Ewing said. 

More than 200 copper wire thefts were reported in Raleigh last year, police said.