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Your Air Conditioner Condenser: Easy Prey for Copper Thieves?

Your air conditioner condenser is valuable to you, but it also contains something very valuable to thieves—copper. Copper is used in the air conditioner condenser because the metal is strong, resists corrosion, is easy to maintain and transfers heat very effectively. As copper prices have risen, so has the theft of copper from air conditioners. Take preventive measures and you may avoid becoming a victim of this common crime.  

Signs of Copper Theft

This theft is not subtle. You'll notice a problem immediately because your A/C will be partly or completely dismantled and the air conditioner condenser torn apart or missing altogether. As thieves are usually in a hurry, the unit is often completely destroyed as they try to retrieve all of the copper. 

Preventing Copper Theft

You have several options for preventing this kind of expensive theft. For the most protection, consider using multiple preventive measures. The more time-consuming, risky and laborious the process of getting to the copper is, the more likely the thief will give up or not even bother trying.   

  • Monitor your air conditioner condenser with security cameras. Many security cameras allow you to view live feeds from your computer. Using these, you can monitor the A/C even when you're away from home. If the thief doesn't know the camera is there recording each move or doesn't care, your air conditioner condenser may still be vandalized. However, you'll be able to call the police as it's happening. If the police don't get there in time to stop the thieves, you'll still have video footage that might aid in the capture and conviction of the individual(s). You could also opt for a hidden camera and use a sign warning potential thieves that the area is being monitored. Just the sign alone might deter some.
  • Use motion detecting lights. Thieves prefer to go about their tasks unnoticed. To protect against burglars, many people use motion-detecting lights, which can help prevent copper thefts after dark. These lights work best in areas without much wildlife, as animals can easily trigger some lights.  
  • Conceal the unit. Criminals generally opt for the easiest targets. If they can't see your air conditioner from the street, they might not bother with stopping by to look for it. Methods of concealment include tall shrubs or a tall opaque fence. When you use this method, be sure to do so along with other methods so that you're not simply giving concealment for a burglar or copper thief to go about their nefarious task unnoticed. Consider installing a motion detecting light. Make sure to consult the manufacturer’s spec or your Comfort 24/7 provider to maintain the minimum airflow and service clearances around the outdoor unit.
  • Connect it to your home’s alarm system. There are a few ways an A/C unit can be connected to your alarm system, but this should always be done by a professional. Contact your alarm company to request this service. If the air conditioner is tampered with, your system will alarm, which should frighten away most thieves. Depending on your type of home alarm, the police might also be called automatically. This method costs more than motion lights and some security cameras, but it's probably more effective and the cost should be much less than the cost of buying a new air conditioner.
  • Use a security cage. Another potential deterrent is to use a security cage around the outdoor air conditioner. The cage should be constructed of heavy-duty steel. A determined thief can still steal copper from you, but the perpetrator will have to take extra time and make a concerted effort to break through the cage to get to the air conditioner condenser. Cages can be removed when the air conditioner is given its annual maintenance check-up but can be left on at all other times.

For more information about protecting your air conditioner condenser from thieves and other issues related to home safety and comfort, please contact us at Comfort24-7.com. We serve Chicago area homeowners, as well as those in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan. 

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