Air Conditioner Theft Rises with Temp

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   The spring head has returned to the North State, and many residents are starting to dust off their air conditioners, but instead of finding cool relief, some are finding they've been ripped off. "It's a pretty big surprise when you go to turn them on, and they don't come on," according to Air-Art Air Conditioning Owner Chuck Pugh. "They go outside, and find pretty much, pieces laying on the ground."

    Pugh says the thieves and vandals are looking for items like copper, or scrap metal. "They're getting maybe 30 to 70 dollars worth of scrap, but doing thousands of dollars of damage."

    Chico Police Officials were not available for comment on Friday, but did tell Action News over the phone that they've recently seen a large spike in this type of crime. A spike Pugh says he's seen first hand. "Most we've seen in such a short period of time. We've been involved in some over the years, but one, two a year. Three in two weeks is a lot."

    Once the parts are stolen the thieves bring them to scrap metal yards in hopes to sell them, but those facilities have regulations to keep them from buying stolen goods. Kim Scott, the owner of Chico Scrap Metal told our crews "we actually look at the material, we ask for your drivers license, we take a picture of you with the material that you've brought in, and we finger print you."

    Scott says that not all customers stick around once they found their business is one that follows the rules. "The shadier people will opt to just exit, and take their material."

    It's a problem both Pugh, and Scott worry will continue unless all scrap metal yards follow the rules. "All scrap metal facilities should be following the law, and if we all did, I think you would have a market in which these thieves could not sell their material," according to Scott.


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