Copper thieves target businesses in Phenix City - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Copper thieves target businesses in Phenix City

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email 

PHENIX CITY, AL (WTVM) -  Businesses in Phenix City are trying to beat the heat this summer, but that task is made even harder when thieves steal the copper from their air conditioning units. Copper thieves have been targeting home air conditioning units for decades, but now they've moved on to bigger steals.

Captain Frank Ivey with the Phenix City Police Department said, "In recent months, we've seen a rise in commercial businesses."

Capt. Ivey says these crimes seem to spike at certain times during the year, "We've seen a slight rise in the amount of copper thefts being reported and that's possibly due to the time of year, summertime, and the resale price of copper."

Right now, copper is selling for just under $4 per pound, but in order to get to it, thieves have to cause a lot of damage to air conditioning units.

"They're going in and taking them apart and taking copper coils out of it, the copper piping out of it and selling that," explained Ivey.

But Ivey adds, the costs the victims have to cover is sometimes in the thousands, "Basically its destroyed and that in itself is what makes it so expensive to the victim because they have to replace the entire unit."

Although it is hard for businesses to monitor their property 24/7, neighborhood watch programs could be the key in preventing these thefts.

Capt. Ivey told News Leader 9, "The best defense at this point in time is your neighbors and each other. If they observe something suspicious, call the police."

If a suspect is arrested for stealing copper wiring, they could be convicted of criminal mischief plus theft of property. If they steal the entire air conditioning unit, those charges are increased.

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