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Thieves stealing A/C units not cooling off

As Columbus heats up, some might be unable to cool down this spring and summer. Theft of air conditioning units in Columbus is on the rise, according to Sgt. Richard Curry of the Columbus Division of Police.

“It’s a problem all over the city,” Curry said of the more than 400 thefts reported since November. “A typical unit costs about $2,000 and upwards to replace.”

Brian Grim of University Manors, Ltd., a local property management company, said in an email that he has had multiple experiences with air conditioner theft.

“University Manors, Ltd., has lost about a dozen A/C condensers over the past couple years in this manner,” Grim said.

In response to the thefts, city officials, law enforcement and other interested parties have developed a plan to catch the bandits.

According to a press release from the office of Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, as of April 13, there is a voluntary 30-day waiting period for participating scrap yards to purchase the air-conditioner units and parts while homeowners, businesses and other establishments apply an invisible ink to their properties.

The release said that once the 30 days are over, the scrap yards will then look for invisible ink on the units before purchasing the metal.

John Miller, vice president of local scrap yard I.H. Schlezinger Inc., said the average price for a standard air conditioning unit is $30 to $40, but depends on the size and condition of each unit.

Coleman said in the press release that the increase in thefts is a result of the rising prices of metals.

“While these thefts are not unique to Columbus, there are steps we can and will take to address this epidemic by working with our police, the county prosecutor’s office, the scrap metal industry,” Coleman said.

However, some are less confident in the plan to stop the thefts. Grim said he had heard of the city’s plan before, but thought it was ludicrous “to expect property owners/managers to go out and paint, in my case, some 400 condensers with some invisible paint.” He said there could be an easier solution to the problem by eliminating the incentive and demand for the parts.

Some campus affiliates have not dealt with this problem as much as others.

“I honestly have not had much interaction dealing with individuals dealing with theft of air conditioners,” said Dilnavaz Cama, department manager for Off-Campus Student Services, in an email.

Craig Hart, a second-year in nursing, said he hadn’t heard of the thefts in Columbus.

“I can see why they would do it though,” he said and reminisced about an experience where his car was broken into for a radio. “It’s the economy.”


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