An increase in air conditioning unit thefts has Dothan business owners frustrated and the police department busy investigating.
Copper theft is not new and not limited to the Wiregrass. This is a national problem doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.
“Every week when we’ve come back into work after the weekend, we’ve had an air conditioning unit stolen from our business,” says Dothan City Commissioner, Hamp Baxley.
In the span of seven days, Baxley’s law office became the target of air conditioning theft twice.
“Obviously, we’re just one of many, many, many people who have experienced the same type of theft over the last couple of months,” he says.
In fact, located next door to Baxley’s office, the Extendicare Corporate Office was also hit by air conditioning thieves this past weekend, and these aren’t isolated incidents.
“There has been a national trend in recent copper thefts. We’ve seen it in not only air conditioning units, but also in new construction sites and things of that nature,” says Sergeant Rachel David with the Dothan Police Department.
Sergeant David says area scrap yards are cooperating with the police.
“They don’t want to buy stolen items any more than we want them to. So they are actually working closely with us to make sure they are not making it where it’s an easy crime for people to bring in stolen goods and sell them at their place of business.”
In the meantime, the Dothan Police Department is encouraging businesses to defend themselves against this type of crime.
“Obviously an outside air conditioning unit can’t be brought in at night. So it’s in a very vulnerable position. So we encourage you to make sure any type of alarm system with sensors in those areas, lights with sensors (are working), and just make sure the area is lighted in general,” says David.
After spending roughly $20,000 to replace two units, Baxley is looking into another method of security.
“Considering going even further and putting Freon alarms on the systems, to make sure when someone cuts the system off that alarm goes off and the security company notifies the police immediately. “
In addition to motion-detector lights and security systems, Sergeant David says the best mode of defense is to work with neighboring businesses. She says if you see anything out of the ordinary to immediately call the police.
These air conditioning thefts remain under investigation by the Dothan Police Department.