ASHEVILLE NC – Over the last year the Asheville Police Department has received 32 reports of HVAC units either being damaged or stolen. Initially, only certain metal components were cut and stolen from the units. Over the last few months thieves have been stealing entire units. The majority of these thefts have occurred along the Haywood Road corridor in west Asheville but there have also been thefts along Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville, Tunnel Road in east Asheville and Sweeten Creek Road and Airport Road in south Asheville. Thieves have been targeting rental properties, abandoned structures, and businesses and many of the incidents have occurred during the early morning hours. HVAC units are typically stolen because of the value of the metal in the units and possibly the resale of the unit.
APD is asking for the public’s help in identifying possible suspects in these cases. If you have any information about these thefts please call APD at 252-1110 or Crime Stoppers at 255-5050 or send a tip via text message specifically to the Asheville PD by Texting “APDTIP plus your tip” to 274637 (CRIMES).
APD is also asking our citizens and business owners to be aware of the thefts and make it harder for thieves to steal or damage your units. While thieves may get some money for the metal in the units, it costs the victims thousands to replace them. Here are some tips to make it harder for thieves to target your home or business.
· Install motion lights and an audible alarm around your property/equipment. For about $300, alarms are available that can monitor refrigerant pressure and alert an owner when lines are cut or leak.
· A similar alarm is available that activates a siren when an attempt is made to move an outside AC unit.
· Wireless GPS products designed to track AC equipment if stolen are available.
· Even though thieves have stolen AC parts from locked areas, fences around units or roofs with gate locks can help deter many thefts. Keep in mind that poorly designed enclosures can impede service personnel and block air flow that is necessary for AC units to operate properly.
· Video surveillance equipment may also deter thieves or help authorities investigate and apprehend those responsible should a theft occur.
· Spray paint copper lines with a bright color. Thieves will see the lines as marked and traceable and will be less likely to steal it. Metal recyclers often question marked metal.