Monday, July 26, 2010

Air conditioning units removed from stores -- San Francisco, CA

Jerry Young did a double take on his way into work at the Sprint store and JC Penney Catalog Center on Route 34 in Derby Thursday.

The giant air conditioning unit for the building was missing from the front of the retail shops.

“As I was walking in I said ‘Something is missing,’” Young said.

He’s not the only one: There’s been a rash of commercial air conditioners thefts in the Valley, specifically Ansonia, police said.

“It’s not just any Tom, Dick or Harry stealing these air conditioners,” Young said. “They’re familiar with getting around, getting the power off. Supposedly they’re getting it off without spilling the freon.”

Police said some entire units — which typically measure about 3 feet by 3 feet — were stolen.

But in most cases, the thieves are removing the exterior casing, cutting the electrical power supply and stealing the internal systems/copper tubing, Williams said. Police believe they might be doing it to get cash for the scrap parts.

Ansonia police Monday issued an alert to downtown businesses to be on the look out for anything suspicious.

“During the past six weeks, the Ansonia Police Department has received several complaints regarding the tampering with and theft of business air conditioning systems,” Lt. Wayne Williams said in an e-mail. “The suspects are accessing both ground units and rooftop units.”

Derby reported one theft — the one at the JC Penny store — and Seymour police said they had a similar theft several months ago at the Tri-Town Plaza buildings, which are vacant.

Lt. Justin Stanko said Derby police are sharing information with area departments and are trying to develop a suspect.

Ansonia had six reported thefts in the downtown area, including the building at 158 Main St, where the Valley Indy office is located.

The others were businesses on Main and East Main streets in Ansonia, including Banko’s music shop.

The thieves are brazen enough to steal during the day, Williams said.

One man, a white male in his 30s with a stocky build and short brown hair, was observed carrying a unit in a cart in Ansonia.

He told a witness he was performing maintenance on the system, Williams said.

The unit had probably just been stolen from 200 Main St., police said.

The units range in cost from $2,000 to $12,000 to replace, Williams said.

Williams said the police department has increased downtown patrols in response to the thefts.

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