Thieves Looking For Copper Target Air Conditioners

By: Melina Matthes

OMAHA (kptm) - Lately police have seen a rise in air conditioner thefts. They've had numerous reports come in of copper being stolen from the units and in some cases the entire air conditioner is missing. Fox 42 spoke with a local preschool that was hit.

Last Thursday thieves targeted the backyard preschool and childcare center off 36th and Leavenworth. Owner Patty Smolinski says, "Basically everything was right here. Like we had the double unit that sat here and it was just all yanked."

When she arrived that morning their air conditioner had been pulled away from the wall. The only thing missing was the copper coil inside. Then just three days later thieves struck again.

"Well my first reaction was thank god it's not summer and 90 degrees because then the kids wouldn't be able to come to daycare, it would be too hot," Smolinski says.

She says when she came to the building on Saturday she found an empty slab of concrete and wires but no air conditioner. "It's really sad for a few bucks to go around daycares, I know churches have been hit other facilities that service the community have been hit," Smolinski says.

And businesses aren't the only target. Just a block away from the preschool, thieves went after the air conditioner at this rental property. Owner Kristy Phalen says, "it kind of makes me sad that they need the money that bad because theirI mean they're not just doing this to me, it's happening all over the city.

Stan Gregory is one of the owner's at A-1 United Heating and Air Conditioning. He says it's something he's seeing more often. "This is the copper that the thieves are going after they'll pull this off residential house sometimes they'll take just this other times they'll take the complete unit."

And he says whether they just take a part or the whole air conditioner, most often times the entire unit has to be replaced, costing anywhere from 2 to 12 thousand dollars.

But is there anything you can do to protect yourself? "With people's air conditioning units outside there's not really a lot that you can do. I've seen attempts to chain the air conditioners down or box them in with chain link fences," Officer James Shade says.

He also encourages people to keep a close eye on the community and start a neighborhood watch.

If you have any information regarding this crime, call crime stoppers at 444-stop.