Local News

Copper stolen out of air-conditioning units

Thieves are targeting units at homes, churches and businesses to get metal they can sell for scrap.

Posted Updated

DURHAM, N.C. — Thieves are going after air conditioning units around the Triangle, hoping to sell copper piping they take from inside them.
In recent weeks, there have been a number of thefts in Durham. Police said AC thieves are stealing from homes, churches and businesses.

Sandy Winchester's Hair Salon in Durham was among the businesses targeted.

"You see how they had to come back in through here to get these things out of here,”  Winchester said when describing how two AC units were stolen from behind her salon.

The thieves cut the units off the wall and carried them away.

They hit two more businesses in the same shopping center, too.

Heating and air conditioning specialist Brian Ellerson said the thieves are looking to steal copper from the units as scrap metal.

"We have homeowners asking us about it all the time," he added.

Ellerson also said the money that thieves can get from selling the copper is small, compared with the problems they leave behind.

Thieves can get "15 to 20 bucks per house, but the damage they cause is in the thousands," he added.

Insurance will pay for Winchester's missing AC units; however, she said she lost customers because it was too hot inside her salon to work.

Ellerson said he has even seen thieves steal units that were bolted down and chained up.

Police said those hidden in corners and behind bushes are more likely to be stolen because thieves can work undetected.