With copper prices still high, thieves continue to target copper. Copper is 100 percent recyclable and depending on its grade, can often be sold to scrap yards and recyclers for around 90% of the value of new copper making it an attractive target for thieves.
The most popular items being targeted for their copper are outdoor air conditioning units. Churches tend to have large or multiple air conditioning units which contain a greater amount of copper than for example, a single residential unit and since most church buildings are left unoccupied at night and with units often located in inconspicuous areas, they can be considered easy targets.
To protect against copper thefts at your church, consider taking the following steps:
- Cage It – Consider the use of steel cages to enclose your AC units. The heavier the gauge of steel, the longer it will take to cut. If you are concerned about appearances, custom caging can be created to blend with the environment. Do not use standard chain link fencing as it can be cut quickly.
- Light It Up – Add security lighting to areas to improve visibility. Also cut back trees and shrubbery to increase natural surveillance and eliminate hiding places.
- Install Security Cameras – Unless cameras are monitored, they can’t be used to stop a crime in progress. However, they can be a deterrent and provide evidence for prosecution after the fact.
- Alarms – Consider using alarms that are mounted to your HVAC units.
- Limit Access – Deny access to your roof-mounted HVAC units by removing ladders and also pay attention to tree branches that may assist in climbing. Where feasible (and this will not apply to all facilities), limit access to your church property during off times of the day by adding fences and gates.
- Signs – Place warning signs around the site.
If you are a victim of such a crime, know that without preventive action, thieves can and often will return to the same target so as you repair or replace your units, consider the suggestions noted above. But even better, address the issue ahead of time so that there is no potential interruption in your ministry. Also, beyond the work and expenses needed to replace or repair the damaged units, your building’s electrical safety could be compromised if wires are damaged or stolen so just another reason to be as proactive in this area as you can.