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Thieves target commercial air conditioning units for copper

Reported by: Sergio Avila
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Updated: 7/19/2013 6:25 am
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3.com) -- Earlier this week we told you about how the boys and girls club in Las Vegas fell victim to copper thieves who ripped their air conditioners apart.

Metro is telling us air conditioning thefts at commercial buildings are on the rise.

Inside the larger air conditioners that cool big buildings, there can be anywhere from 30 to 40 pounds of copper inside.

If you're a thief, what's better than one unit is being able to rip off several in just a matter of minutes.

The boys and girls club of Las Vegas was just one of the most recent commercial buildings to have their air conditioners wrecked by thieves.

The copper is what's of value to the thief.

Brian Peterson owns Slverstate Refrigeration and tells us this type of crime is pretty common and can be very expensive.
For the boys and girls club we're talking the tune of $26,000 in damage.

“ They're not going to be neat about it. They're just going to get their electric saws and they're just going to hack through the lines as easy as they can and get off that roof,” Peterson said.

Jose Hernandez with Metro says buildings with multiple units on the roof have become a target for criminals.

“On the weekends they're closed. Late evening hours, they're closed,” Hernandez said. “There is very little foot traffic in these areas.”

One way Hernandez says you can help is to just be vigilant.

“If you see something suspicious, say something immediately. The sooner we can get there and find out what these individuals are doing, the sooner we can catch up to them,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez says this type of crime is driven by the price of copper, when the price goes up, criminals try to cash in.

The price in Nevada is about $2.65 per pound.

“It's gone up a lot in the last two years. And compared to California, I think California is even more than that,” Peterson said.

Peterson says you can buy audible alarms to put on your unit to scare thieves away. You can also try signage or even cages.

“I haven't seen one of the barriers cut through. Audible alarms I think people sway away from those because people don't want to wake up their neighbors,” Peterson said.

All measures for peace of mind and comfort inside your business or home.

The boys and girls club tonight is telling us they're still working with some donors to replace the air conditioners.

They've had so much support the last few days, they're confident they'll be able to either have a fundraiser to replace the units or get some donated machines.

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