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Preventing the Theft of Your A/C Units ( I.E. Copper Theft)

By July 9, 2020July 11th, 2024Property
Copper theft

Despite declining scrap metal prices, thieves are still targeting churches, vacant buildings, and construction sites in their quest for copper or other parts they can turn into cash.  They are even known to take electrical wiring and pipes.  Most recently a popular target has been catalytic converters, which contain platinum and other precious metals, from vehicles stored in church parking lots.

What’s Your Best Protection?

Thieves want easy access, so they can get what they want quickly and escape without notice. By limiting access and making detection more likely, you can reduce your risk of becoming a victim. Here are some ideas to consider to best protect the theft of HVAC units.

  • The easiest and perhaps most common solution is to place a cage or fence around air conditioning units.  The heavier the gauge of steel the longer it will take to cut.  Do not use standard chain link fencing as it can be cut quickly.
  • Consider the use of pressure-sensor alarms that are mounted to your HVAC units.  If the unit is tampered with, including cutting of refrigerant and power lines, an alarm will sound.
  • Add security lighting to include all outside equipment.
  • Use security cameras so that they are visible to would be thieves but so they cannot be easily disabled.
  • Remove ladders and other items offering easy access to rooftop HVAC units.

Thieves Return To The Scene Of The Crime

An alarming trend is repeat theft.  After repairs have been completed or equipment replaced, the location is once again targeted.  If no additional risk management measures are implemented, you may see the same theft scenario repeat itself.

The work and expenses needed to replace or repair the damaged items might not be the only problem.  The damage done during this type of crime can also create threats to your building’s electrical safety if wires are damaged or stolen.


Example: This photograph illustrates AC units protected by a steel cage and security lighting.
copper theft

Photo from GuideOne Insurance Blog



Gary Benson

Gary Benson has been an agent for over 40 years, primarily serving churches and nonprofits. He is the agency principal for The Woodlands, TX office of Insurance One.