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NCSO on alert after AC thefts

Photo by Howard Reed

Photo by Howard Reed

COVINGTON -- An escalating number of thefts of air conditioning unit components has prompted extra patrols in unmarked cars by the Newton County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Tyrone Oliver said there have been at least 27 thefts of air conditioning units or components over a 30-day period. Oliver said thieves typically target foreclosed or otherwise unoccupied homes, although occupied homes aren't immune to the thefts. Thieves strip the AC units of copper components that they then sell to recycling businesses. Sometimes the offenders take the entire AC units.

The crimes span the county. A Settlers Grove resident reported Dec. 17 that someone had cut the AC unit away from a house she owns, dismantled it and cut the copper out of it. The exterior cover to the unit was left on the ground. A Sunflower Lane resident reported on Dec. 15 that someone had removed two AC units from the backyard of his property. The units were valued at $4,000.

Oliver said the Sheriff's Office is trying to track sales of copper from AC units at area recycling centers.

"We are actually going and checking the log sheets at the recycling centers. The recyclers have to show us who is trading stuff in," Oliver said.

Officials are looking for names of people who frequently bring items to the recyclers or those who are not in the air conditioning business, Oliver said.

He asked that area residents be the "eyes and ears" of the Sheriff's Office.

"We do ask if anybody sees anything suspicious to call 911 and we can come out and investigate and catch as many of these people as possible," Oliver said.