Air conditioner metal thefts are on the rise

Clermont County Sheriff’s Office investigators and narcotics agents arrested two Felicity residents Aug. 16 during an operation to address thefts of air conditioning units from several churches in both Felicity and Franklin Township.

Jason Ray Kaylor and Tosha Renee Bishop were both charged with one count of breaking and entering, a fifth degree felony, and one count of possessing criminal tools, a first degree misdemeanor.

Both Kaylor and Bishop are also suspected of similar crimes at other locations in the county, and both will go to trial in front of the Clermont County Grand Jury.

“We call them scrappers,” Chief Deputy Rick Combs said. “They are out looking to relieve people of their precious metals.”

This type of theft is on the rise in Clermont County, and Chief Deputy Combs said reports of this type of crime come in daily.

“It’s hot on the trend list,” Chief Deputy Combs said. “Because a lot of people aren’t working, and some of those places aren’t secured very well.”

Chief Deputy Combs said the criminals are seeking the small amounts of meltable metals, such as copper, that can be found in air conditioning units, catalytic converters in cars, piping and more.

He said the criminals are targeting any location where they can get away with taking the materials. Construction sites, vacant homes, business and residential homes are all examples. Chief Deputy Combs said criminals are even taking catalytic converters from cars in parking lots.

“If it is not tied down or bolted down, they’ll take it,” Chief Deputy Combs said. “They will take it and they will scrap it.”

With metal prices on the rise and scrap metal dealers paying more for scrap, criminals are taking advantage of the situation.

“As soon as we break one group, two groups or three groups up, another one starts,” Chief Deputy Combs said. “You are seeing a lot more of them.”

Chief Deputy Combs said the major problem comes from the amount of damage the scrappers cause when they remove the metal. He said they completely destroy air conditioning units, which can cost thousands of dollars, and many times damage other property as well.

“They literally do not care what they destroy,” Chief Deputy Combs said.

He said the crime has become popular with narcotic users who use the money to purchase drugs. And it is relatively easy to steal the metal with simple tools such as metal cutters or a hatchet.

“It affects every walk in our society.” Chief Deputy Combs said about the crime.

He said to be on the lookout for suspicious activity and to notify law enforcement officers with any information.

“Have neighbors watch out, keep areas well lit, anything you can do to add security to your property and air conditioners,” Chief Deputy Combs said.