(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Thieves are driving up business for local heating and cooling companies in St. Joseph. One business owner said he doesn't feel right that he is profiting off of another's misfortune.
Owner of A&M Heating and Cooling Mike Anderson said his business is booming but not for the right reasons. Anderson said within the last three weeks, he has replaced 17 stolen air conditioning units.
Anderson raised his concerns at a City of St. Joseph council meeting Monday night. He told the council that he has never had this many customers call for a replacement for this reason before.
Officers with the St. Joseph Police Department said the copper market can drive thieves to steal more units.
“When the price of copper goes up you start to see a lot more theft,” said Sergeant Brad Kerns, from the SJPD Financial Crimes Division. “A lot of times, people are going in to steal copper out of your AC unit.”
Anderson said he thinks it's this recent increase in incentive that is causing the uptick in the theft.
“It’s getting more expensive to make new copper and make new metals so the salvage departments are making a killing right now," Anderson said. "They are paying fairly good prices for aluminum copper coils."
Victims pay anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 to get a new air conditioning unit.
In addition to financial problems, victims also have to deal without air conditioning in the hottest months of the year.
“You’ve got people who don’t want to work for a living that find it an easy way to make a few bucks by stealing people's air conditioners,” said Anderson. “You hate to see all these people losing an air conditioner [and] living without air conditioning because of thievery, it's not right.”
According to Sgt. Kerns, the season to steal these units is far from over. Kerns said if you want to stop these thieves put up gates or fences around your unit and install a security camera.
“Any time you can use that it helps us to get those images out to other department members," Sergeant Kerns said. "A lot of time they are repeat offenders.”
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