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Caution: Copper Theft On The Rise

Thieves target air conditioning units for copperWe take the safety of our technicians and our customers very seriously. When a technician enters your home or business, his first priority is to be sure that your equipment is operating safely and does not pose a risk to your family’s health or of damaging your property. We also do our best to let our customers know about other risks that may affect their home and property, and unfortunately we need to bring one of those to your attention now.

Although it’s not a new problem, copper theft seems to have gained visibility over the summer as thieves are becoming more bold. Our technicians have found stripped units at several job sites this year, NBC News ran a feature about the problem in late July, and the FBI has designated copper theft as a national security concern since 2008. Although large thefts that interrupt electrical service, cripple railways, or affect emergency notification systems gain the most attention, business and homeowners can be directly affected as well. In this case, isolated or unoccupied buildings are often targets for thieves.

In addition to thefts directly from units, our industry has recently been on high alert for van theft. The Philadelphia area has been hit hard in recent weeks by thieves stealing entire service vans and stripping them of their contents. Service vans are the backbone of every company in this industry, and their loss is more than a headache for company management. Many technicians own their tools, which can be very expensive, and the loss of a collection that often took years to build is devastating. Service vans are stocked with parts and materials for common repairs, and may contain special order parts for customers who have already been waiting. Each van off the road represents calls that must be delayed or cancelled, and no one wants to see that happen.

So what can you do? Your best defense is awareness. Homeowners who split their time between two or more properties should include their homes’ exterior in their security measures. So if you spend time at a shore property, or have a winter home in another state, take a look at your “closing up” process to make sure your outdoor unit will be monitored along with the rest of your house. Something as simple as adding an exterior light which illuminates that area can help prevent theft. When it comes to van theft, if you see any unusual activity, don’t be afraid to speak up!

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