Raleigh thieves targeting AC units; tearing machines apart to get copper inside

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Just as hot weather returns to the forecast, thieves are targeting air conditioning units and stealing the copper inside.

Business owners at Jamestown Square, which is off Six Forks Road in Raleigh, reported the thefts to police Monday.

“The HVAC guy told me there’s probably about $30 to $60 worth of copper in those two units and it was $4,500 to replace just my two units,” said James Wheeler, owner of James Anson Salon. “If you’re gonna be that meticulous and take that much time, get a damn job.”

Wheeler noticed someone destroyed a light as well. He said a cleaning crew contacted him after seeing the mess left behind outside his business, with pieces of the air conditioning units scattered in the grass.

“Someone with that kind of talent to be able to dismember something like that, they could legitimately go get a job and probably make really good money, especially in this area, construction is booming,” said Wheeler.

He said the thefts happened some time between when he left Saturday and when people came to work Monday morning. The businesses are visible along Six Forks Road and are located less than a quarter-mile from the Raleigh Police Department headquarters.

Investigators came to the business Monday to gather evidence, he said. Police have not made any arrests.

A few doors down from Wheeler, Paul Hansen noticed it was unusually hot in his office when he got to work Monday.

“I happened to look outside my window from right above, and I could see the parts laying around and the units (were) apart,” he said. “Obviously, somebody was busy over the weekend.”

Reports filed with Raleigh police show six AC units were damaged in all.

“And, there’s gonna be some copper tubing that’s going to have to be run through the walls. So, it’s gonna be a total of about $13,000,” said Hansen.

Both business owners said they expect insurance will reimburse them for the costs to replace the units. They also said thieves have targeted the same development before, though their businesses were not hit in the past.

Hansen said he and his wife are researching surveillance cameras, hoping to install them soon.

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