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Is Your HVAC System Secure?

Posted February 28, 2011 8:30 AM by Steve Melito

Copper prices may have fallen, but law enforcement officials are still busy with a rise in copper-related thefts. Last December, just a month before the price of copper reached an all-time high, Maryland State Police arrested a ring of thieves who now face more than 400 charges. During a three-week span in September, the Carroll County quartet stole 53 HVAC units valued at more than $160,000 (USD) from 32 vacant homes and businesses.

"These criminals were very meticulous in what they were doing," explained Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley. "They had a flat-bed trailer that they were pulling behind a pickup truck, and they were strapping them onto that and hauling them under the cover of darkness." Fortunately for the police, these copper thieves were also meticulous note-takers who recorded the dates and addresses of their marks before disassembling the stolen HVAC systems and selling the metal components to scrapyards.

Some law enforcement officials characterize copper thieves as petty criminals or drug addicts in search of a fix. The case from Carroll County, however, indicates that concerns about HVAC theft are more than hot air. What steps is your organization taking to ensure that its heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems remain secure?

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#1

Re: Is Your HVAC System Secure?

03/01/2011 1:01 AM

Just post a sign on it: PROTECTED BY SMITH & WESSON.

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#2
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Re: Is Your HVAC System Secure?

03/01/2011 4:03 AM

Being based in the US and with such access could you post:

Protected by Anatoly Kalashnikov and his 46 friends. (Yes I know it was Mikhail K and the A stands for automatic but this seems funnier)

Here in the UK I think we go for Dels longbow or variations on the canine front

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#3

Re: Is Your HVAC System Secure?

03/01/2011 8:03 AM

This is a more expensive problem that most people realize. I've gone out on "water leak" calls and found entire condensate drains ripped out of units. First, this can cause damage to the pan. Some older machines don't have parts available so you have to have one built and the unit torn apart to replace it. It can get costly. Secondly, many city codes require copper, no PVC. So to stay in compliance they have to replace with copper. This of course encourages a cycle of theft.

One of my customers leased a space to an LA Sheriffs substation. I got a "no cool" call. When I went on the roof the condenser coils on 4 of their machines had been cut out with a Sawzall. They had to buy 4 new 10 ton machines.

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