AC theft a hot crime in northeast Arkansas

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- In the past few months, crooks have stolen not just copper wiring, but entire air conditioning units. Heat and air units were stolen from four different homes up for sale. One in Lake City, Caraway, Forrest City, and right here in Jonesboro, leaving behind a costly mess.

"We put additional security devices on the inside of this door. That will prevent somebody from taking a pry-bar to this door, and just forcing the door open. You can see where somebody has tried to do that," said Bill Waldrip, who is a real estate agent with Fred Dacus Associates.

He says while break-ins have always been a problem, the past six months the issue's been copper theft. And the type of target has been consistent: isolated homes with no neighbors nearby.

"They were protected by a privacy fence and by the woods. So really no one would see them," said Waldrip.

Two empty concrete pads marked where this home's heat and air unit used to be. "It looks like someone just took a hack saw and cut the main line. It's very frustrating. Replacing these units is a lot more expensive than whatever they get out of the salvage value," said Waldrip.

The question is: where are the crooks selling it? Investigator Justin Rolland with the Craighead County Sheriff's Department says right now, the cost for copper wire is high, but at the same time so is the cost of gas, which could be an advantage when it comes to making an arrest.

"That's going to keep them from going long distances. So they do tend to sell that copper wire locally, which benefits us," said Rolland.

He says the department has made huge strides in handling copper theft cases. Officers stay in close contact with many of the scrap metal dealers through the leads online program, a computer database that documents such transactions.

"We've been able to make several arrest over the past couple of months. Things have you know declined steadily, but it hasn't gone away completely," said Rolland.

Waldrip does urge residents to keep a close eye out. If you notice any suspicious activity taking place at a house for sale, be sure to contact the real estate agent.

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