Thieves target heat pumps in Hanover for copper - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

Thieves target heat pumps in Hanover for copper

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MECHANICSVILLE, VA (WWBT) -

Hanover authorities are working to track down thieves making some very obvious steals - the heat pumps right outside your home.

Eric Lumpkin of Mechanicsville discovered his heat pump was tampered with Saturday night.

"The cage on top of the heating unit had been taken off. Somebody removed the screws," described Lumpkin.

Investigators say thieves aim to cash in on the metal or Freon inside the system. Some culprits take the entire heating unit into their trucks, just to get the copper inside to trade in a scrap yard for money.

Alan Mitchell of Mitchell & Young Residential Services says he sometimes replaces several stolen heat pumps a week.

"I'd say two guys with a pickup truck could pick [the entire unit] up and be out of there in two minutes," said Mitchell.

Homeowners are left startled, and out of significant dollars.

"People actually steal the whole unit, scrap it, and maybe get $50, $60 and cost the home owner $3,000 to $4,000," continued Mitchell.

Police say it's not uncommon for thieves to target heat pumps. However, there does seem to be a slight uptick recently, in the Hanover area. Hanover investigators report four heat pumps were stolen since February. 11 units were swiped in Chesterfield during that same time period. Since Monday, two more heat pumps were tampered with in Richmond.

There are ways to protect your system with fences, cages and even alarm systems.

"[The alarm] senses pressure. So, if the pressure leaves the system, it'll sound the alarm and alert the alarm company," explained Mitchell.

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