RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A crime alert for North Richmond tonight. Thieves are stealing air conditioning units right out of your back yards. And the latest theft was unconventional.
The thieves didn't break through a door or even try to go through a window. They went in through the crawl space. It happened in broad day light several times over a two-week period.
The thieves got on their hands and knees and crawled into the Edgewood Avenue house in Richmond's Battery Park. Police say they got away with an air conditioner, copper piping, electrical wires, a water heater and an old furnace.
Richmond Detective Todd Perseghin says, "They take them for the copper that's in them. The metal that's in them, the motor. They take them to scrap yards and salvage yards. There's a high demand for those kinds of metals."
Perseghin calls the burglar's approach unique, but says what is being taken is nothing new. He's just seeing a spike in the crime, recently in North Richmond. He says at least 16 heat pumps and air conditioning compressors have been stolen out of backyards in North Richmond since December.
Perseghin says, "Vacant homes have been the target or homes that are in between renters. If you have a for sale sign or for rent sign anything like that. At this time I'd say you're probably making yourself a target."
Homes under renovation are also being targeted. Marshall Hyman owns a home two doors down on Edgewood avenue. He just finished fixing it up. It's now for sale.
Hyman says, "If it happened there, it's probably going to happen again. I hope not, but in a way It's real sad when this happens this day and time is unbelievable."
Hyman checks on his property everyday. Police say other homeowners with empty properties need to do the same, and if they can't, they need to get their neighbors to help.
Perseghin says, "You need to have that tight knit community and have your neighbors look our for one another."
Police say if you see anyone acting suspicious or carrying large piece of equipment from a home give them a call immediately.