Police: Thieves stealing AC units in western suburbs

August 2, 2011 (RIVERSIDE, Ill.)

A Riverside office building had two of its four air conditioning units stolen either late Sunday night or early Monday morning. It affected the Riverside Post Office, where fans were set up to help keep the room at a manageable temperature, and Arcade Jewelers, which did not open for business Tuesday. Owner Kathleen Snyder is frustrated by the inconvenience but is trying to keep a sense of humor.

"We can't open today. It's very terrocious. It's terrible and atrocious together," she said.

Building management called a heating and air conditioning company to repair the remaining two units, which they say were prepped for theft because their wires were cut.

Bob Post with Repco Services says AC unit theft is a growing trend.

"This year is really when it started happening a lot. I had heard of it last year but I had never been on any calls like that," said Post.

Riverside police are investigating the theft and say with the units being heavy and bulky, more than one person is believed to be involved. They say it is probably the same people who have been stealing units in nearby suburbs.

The copper in the units is believed to be sold for scrap metal at a price that is nowhere near the cost of large units, which is at least $3,000.

"Our investigation shows that scrap yards will give as much as $90 per AC unit for the scrap and the parts that are inside," said Chief Tom Weitzel, Riverside police.

Police say a boot print was left at the scene and are also looking at surveillance video.

Repair crews are working on the Riverside unit to fence them in and install an elaborate alarm system.

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