07/10/11 — Thieves stealing homes' a/c units

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Thieves stealing homes' a/c units

By Gary Popp
Published in News on July 10, 2011 1:50 AM

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The damage done to a trailer in the C&K Mobile Home Park after thieves targeted 10 units for their air-conditioners -- and the copper inside them -- is seen here.

With a dozen air conditioning units reported stolen or damaged in the last week alone, county law enforcement officials say they are seeing a new trend this summer as thieves target the appliances for their metal components, primarily copper, which can be sold at scrap yards.

Copper itself has been sitting at more than $4 per pound for several months.

"This has probably been the worst week we have ever had and the worst summer," Maj. Tom Effler of the Wayne County Sheriff's Office said of the recent rash of air conditioner thefts.

Almost every day, the Sheriff's Office and Goldsboro police are faced with reports of air conditioners that have been removed completely from homes and businesses or units that have had their interior metal components stripped.

Robert Knowles, co-owner of R&L Investments and mobile homes on Quaker Drive, reported to the Sheriff's Office Thursday that the air-conditioning units had been stolen from 10 of the trailers.

The report listed the total damages to the 10 units at $30,500 and $8,000 in stolen copper wiring.

Knowles said he was made award of the thefts by a woman who cleans the homes.

"It made me sick to my stomach," Knowles said. "It is unreal."

At least one other home, not owned by Knowles, in the same community, also reported the same theft.

And the suspects did more than just take the units or extract their metal parts. In many of the homes, they tore the paneling from walls so even more metal could be reached, Knowles said.

"The entire home is beyond repair for at least three or four of the homes," he said.

Other recent air conditioner thefts include a home in the 1200 block of Mimosa Street where $2,000 in damages was done to the unit and $1,000 in copper was stolen between 5 p.m. Wednesday and 5:45 p.m. Thursday.

And on the 200 block of Hack Drive in Dudley, an air conditioner was reported stolen between June 15 and July 7 from a home that is for sale. The value of the air-conditioning unit was listed at $1,500.

Officials with the Goldsboro police and Sheriff's Office suggest people install a fence or surveillance equipment to protect their units.

They also said people could combat such thefts by frequently checking on vacant property, such as homes for sale or rent, which are often targeted by thieves, and to call authorities if anything or anyone seems out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods.

"Be mindful of your neighbor's property. We like people who are nosy," said Sgt. Dwayne Dean of the Goldsboro Police Department. "Call us, and let us determine if something is wrong."

Dean said police appreciate when people call in to report suspicious behavior, even if it turns out to be a false alarm.