RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - In just a matter of weeks, crooks hauled away three air conditioners from the same building. Quick cash for them, heartache for the owner, who has to shell out big bucks for replacements.
Cut wires and concrete slabs. All that's left outside a building on Hull Street Road where the owner said crooks hauled away three air conditioners in mid-November.
"Two of the units were brand new," said the building owner who wanted to remain anonymous.
About the same time, Richmond police said an A/C unit was swiped from a house on Walmsley Boulevard. The crooks aren't after the actual systems, but what's inside: copper coiling.
"They're stealing it for the money," said the building owner.
Right now, copper is $3.00 per pound! Richmond saw ten A/C thefts between January and November of this year, up from six the same time last year.
Chesterfield saw over 100 air conditioners thefts and thefts of parts this year, including a string of them this summer in the Ettrick community.
"This is probably, with what scrap metal is bringing now, is probably more than we've ever heard or ever seen before," said Ernie Landrum with Woodfin.
Some crooks don't waste time hauling them away. They'll strip out the copper right on the spot and if they know what they're doing it'll take about 10 minutes tops. Replacements aren't cheap.
"Generally you're speaking anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 depending on the system," said Landrum.
The building owner said along with replacements, security will be tighter.
"We're not only going to put security in but more lights on the side of the building and everything," said the building owner.
One Richmond scrap yard said it and other scrap yards have agreed to not buy copper from the general public as a deterrent for these kinds of thefts.