As long as there are people that are willing to break the law to make a fast buck and scrap yards, there will be a problem with stolen air conditioners. Scrappers don’t sell the unit whole, they will break it down to get the most value by weight. What easily costs several thousands of dollars for equipment, not even counting the labor of installing it, will net a criminal a few hundred at best.
We can’t prevent the depraved human spirit that would steal someone’s A\C unit in Texas, but we can make it harder on them and take steps to identify it if it is stolen.
A Locked Disconnect Box
You have to disconnect the power to the air conditioning unit before you can make off with it. There is usually a disconnect box, and this is the safest place to cut the power to the unit. A padlock can add a layer of security and hopefully dissuade a thief from choosing your unit as the next quick target. By itself, it won’t stop a determined thief but each extra hassle makes their risk vs return go up.
A Motion-Sensor Light
The dark is a thieves friend, so shine a light on them. Motion detectors and flood flights call attention to the area. Most robberies take place at night and an unexpected light can scare away a thief with sudden brightness. The idea is to do our best to leave as little coverage for a thief to do damage to the system with impunity.
An Air Conditioner Cage
Steel cages installed over the top of your unit prevent unauthorized access. The cage can be fastened to the slab, preventing whole unit theft. And their mesh walls prevent hands from reaching into the unit for the copper coils they are ultimately after.
Security systems have come down in price significantly. They are also tied to the internet and allow for remote monitoring. The video can be uploaded to the cloud and give a record of any criminal activity on your property. If you already have a system in place, look into adding a camera that has a field of view overlooking your unit. Combined with a floodlight and motion sensor, it takes a truly brazen criminal to still try and steal your copper under such scrutiny.
An unexpected alarm that is triggered when the air conditioner is disconnected or moved is usually enough to scare away a thief. It also draws attention to the area and is unexpected.
Create a Line of Sight
Removing any line of sight obstacles between your unit and where people might be able to see it is a good natural deterrent to thieves. If they have to be out in the open to steal your air conditioning unit, they are that much less likely to choose it as a target. Relocating fencing or bushes to give multiple lines of sight between your neighbors and your property helps prevent theft.
Mark your property
Finally, there are a few steps you can take to make your property identifiable if recovered. Etching your last name and serial into the most likely to be stolen piece – the condenser – can help in recovery efforts. It is also possible to purchase identifiable microdots, which are tiny identifiers that can prove that an item is yours.
Keeping records and using technology together can hopefully prevent an incident of theft, but the next best thing is holding a thief accountable.