Real estate agents fool copper thieves, remove AC units -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Real estate agents fool copper thieves, remove AC units

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Property owners are taking extraordinary measures to protect air conditioning units from metal thieves.

Copper prices are up and thieves are stealing the metal to turn a quick buck. They're swiping copper from underneath homes and air conditioning units at vacant properties. Some real estate agents are fighting back, taking the copper before thieves can. @@@

Before thieves could strip this air conditioning unit behind this rental home on Moultrie Road, The Real Estate Brokers Group, The Anderson Company did it themselves.

"If a house is vacant it just says come and get me," said LaVonda Paulk, RBG-The Anderson Company.

They've put the unit in storage, until someone's ready to move in. With 850 properties around Albany LaVonda Paulk was tired of spending money to replace units being targeted by copper thieves.

"When you look at a couple hundred dollars versus maybe $2,500 to $3,000 is kind of a no brainer, it's much easier doing that, than to replace the unit," said Paulk. Albany Police say it's not a bad idea, especially if properties may be vacant for some time.

"We've never seen someone take the extent that they're dong now to actually remove the units, it's a very, extremely good idea, you can't steal it if it's not there," said Det. Tim Harvey, Albany Police Department.

Cages to protect the units haven't worked, agents have even taken to boarding up windows so they're not broken. Another alternative police suggest is spray paint.

"Florescent paint, orange florescent paint, spray paint your coils, spray paint the copper in there. Recycling companies are extremely aware if there's any air conditioner parts coming in or copper wire coming in with florescent paint on it is most likely stolen," said Harvey.

Agents say it's a hassle and aggravation to remove the units, but they'll keep doing it.

"You know you just have to go to all means now to protect your property and protect your interest," said Paulk.

From thieves looking to make a quick buck, that could cost others thousands.

The Albany Police Department has been working with local recycling centers, holding monthly meetings and training trying to get them to be more vigilant when copper comes into their shops.

Albany Police say some apartment complexes have gone so far as using heavy chains to lock A.C. Units to their concrete pads as a deterrent.

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