Bethel couple responds to new crime wave

Russell Durbin, left, and Mary Durbin of AC Lockdown Security designed a cage to protect HVAC units from metal theft. The lockable cage keeps criminals out but allows for repairs and maintenance.
In December of 2010, Russell and Mary Durbin were victims of a crime that has since escalated in Clermont County.

The couple had gone to check on one of the homes they had for sale, and what they found were footprints in the snow, leading to the spot where their air conditioner had been.

“They are basically coming in, cutting the lines and taking the whole unit,” Russell said.

The crime is becoming popular as metal prices rise. Air conditioners contain a significant amount of copper and aluminum. Thieves will snatch the entire unit, strip it of the metal and then exchange the metal for cash at scrap yards.

“It’s just running rampant,” Mary said about the crime. “People are making a career out of it.”

Residential homes, churches, and business alike have experienced theft, and after realizing how large the issue has become, the Durbins decided to do something about it.

“It is a shame that it has to come to this,” Russell said. “Somebody has got to stand up and fight back.”

Russell began developing and idea to prevent the theft from happening again. What he envisioned was some type of cage that would not only protect an air conditioning unit and heat pump, but allow access for repairs. The design also needed to allow airflow to the unit and be sturdy.

“I am fortunate I can think it out and make it happen,” Russell said about giving life to his design.

He welded tubular steel into the shape of a cage, made the lid of the cage, as well as the back of the cage, removable to allow for repairs, painted the cage with black industrial paint and then used concrete to anchor the cage into the ground.

“It’s a good design, it’s feasible, it’s a deterrent,” Russell said about his creation.

By June of 2011, Russell had begun installing the product for people who had also been victims of theft. At first he approached business and church owners that he knew had been robbed, but pretty soon, he had enough business to increase production.

He called his business venture AC Lockdown Security, and now sells both a standard 40 inch by 40 inch cage as well as custom cages for air conditioners of any size.

The standard cage is priced at $795 for complete installation. The Durbins said this is less than the price of many new units and often less than the price of many people’s insurance deductibles that must be paid if their unit is stolen.

Mary said they put a lot of effort into researching and designing their final product and are now looking forward to growing the idea into a successful business.

“It’s just a great product,” Mary said about the cage. “You buy one and you’re done.”

For more information about AC Lockdown Security, visit or call (513) 797-5625.