News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, March 15, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Scrap metal may not seem that valuable, but when it's stolen from bigger pieces like air conditioners, it can end up costing you a lot of money.
Officials warn metal prices are the highest they've ever been and they're still going up.
Air conditioners are one of the biggest and most expensive targets for metal thieves.
"Commonly people think they're taking copper out of your AC unit, but what is the target is aluminum coil, the radiator coil," said Investigator Kendall Brown with the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force.
As metal prices rise, that coil is worth a lot more money.
"A 2-ton unit can generate a couple of hundred bucks to a metal thief and it causes thousands of dollars of damage," Brown said.
He is the investigator who runs the CSRA Metal Theft Task Force. He warns that high prices could mean a lot more thefts.
"Some metal that may be on your property or farm that you never even thought somebody would take, it will get taken if it is easily accessible," Brown said.
So now is the time to start protecting your property. Hugh Hibbard with Vineland Technology Solutions installs video surveillance systems.
"Thieves tend to look for vulnerabilities," he said. "They see a building that's not used very often whether it be a church, a rural country side church, someone who's in and out of town a lot, they can kinda watch and it's much easier to steal what's on the outside of the house than what's on the inside."
He always recommends putting a camera near your AC unit.
"As I go out to businesses, I look around and see what areas of vulnerability; they may have one thing I always look for is their air conditioning system," he said. "If it's in a poorly-lit area, not in some sort of fencing ... that is something I would definitely recommend."
Surveillance isn't the only protection, though. Marking your metals with neon paint or putting a gate around your AC unit are both good ideas.
"It's sad that you now have to have a cage to protect your AC unit, but a couple of hundred dollars to have that cage will prevent a possible metal theft that may cost you in excess of $200 to replace," Brown said.
Money that can stay in your pocket if you take the right steps ahead of time.
The task force has a new Facebook page that gives you some more information on protecting your property. You can see the page here.
The CSRA Metal Theft Task Force is one of only three in the state of Georgia. They are very active in the community doing rounds at the scrap yards everyday.