Athens Review, Athens, Texas

January 28, 2013

Not cool ... not cool at all

Recent spate of air conditioner thefts keeping Athens Police officers on their toes

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — The Athens Police Department continues to search for information that could lead to the arrest of those responsible for recent air conditioning thefts at local businesses and residences.

The department had multiple reports over the weekend to add to several already turned in this month.

On Saturday morning, APD dispatch received a call from Pit Stop Oil and Lube on East Tyler Street reporting the copper in the business’ AC unit had been taken. Later that morning, Ole West Steak House in the 1500 block of East Tyler Street also reported a theft. Corp. Jason Bosher was dispatched to both locations, and he also took a report of copper stolen from a unit in the 200 block of North Carroll Street.

“They’re everywhere, not just here,” Detective Sgt. Don Yarbrough said of the damaged and stolen AC units. “They’re hitting anything they can get.”

Yarbrough said APD doesn’t have enough information yet to determine which of the thefts might be linked to the same perpetrators.

“We really don’t have much now. We’re still trying to figure it out,” Yarbrough said.

He said citizens can do a few things that might make their AC units targets which are less inviting.

“Put a cage or pipe over it,” Yarbrough said. “You can light it up real good, and video cameras would also be good.”

Citizens who see suspicious activity around someone’s AC unit can help by telling police.

“If they see someone pulled up by one at night, call us,” Yarbrough said. “If you know someone’s business is closed, and they’re standing around one, let us know.”

You can contact APD at 903-675-5454.

Texas House Bill 1766, which became law Sept. 1, 2007, made theft of wiring or cable that consists of at least 50 percent aluminum, bronze or copper, and that has a value of less than $20,000, a state jail felony.

A state jail felony is punishable by a sentence of no more than two years, and no less that 180 days in jail, and a fine not to exceed $10,000. Despite changes in state law to combat the problem, copper thefts have been a common occurrence in Athens and in Henderson County.