Here's a few tips about what you as a homeowner can do to protect your home from this type of theft. These tips may not guarantee that you will not experience vandalism or theft to your air conditioning unit, but they will certainly help deter a thief from targeting your home.
•Remove the landscaping or other materials from around the air conditioning unit to improve surveillance of the area. This will allow people passing by to notice if a theft is taking place.
• Install or improve the lighting over air conditioning units. Thieves like to work under the cover of darkness to avoid being detected. Improved lighting may make the area less attractive to the passing criminal. Consider motion-sensing lights.
• Mark copper coils with indelible ink to identify your ownership. For example, you could write: STOLEN FROM (insert your address). If indelible ink is unavailable, use a permanent marker or florescent spray paint. A thief will be less likely to grab something with an identifying mark.
• Use an engraver to engrave the address of the property onto various places on the air conditioning units. Again, any identifying marks make your unit less desirable for criminals.
• Consider placing a secured cage around your unit. If criminals have to choose between a caged or open A/C unit, they will choose the one that requires less work and provides less of a likelihood they will get caught. Cages can be a worthwhile expense compared to the cost of replacing an entire unit.
• Alarm the A/C unit with one of several devices available on the market. Alarms or theft sensors can be installed inside the A/C's top cover or in other areas of the unit. Check with an A/C service company, alarm company, or the internet for available options.
• Secure the power disconnect box for the A/C unit with a padlock. If the criminals cannot turn off the power they may be deterred from attempting to steal a unit in fear of electrocution.
• Replace the screws on the top of the A/C unit with tamper resistant screws. Most units have 6-8 screws and the cost to replace screws will be minimal.
It may also help to BE AWARE of the houses in your neighborhood. Especially vacant homes.
If you suspect that an A/C theft is in progress or has occurred we encourage that you contact the Lee County Sheriff's Office at 239-477-1000