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Police warn residents, businesses of rise in air conditioner theft

By ANNA MEILER

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) -- The warm weather is unveiling a problem that dozens of local businesses are dealing with.

"Most of them aren't finding out until they actually go to use the air conditioner and there's nothing there," said Lt. Steve Hauck of the Utica Police Department.

Inside this steel casing is something of much greater value. Copper is currently worth $3.20 per pound and police say drug-driven criminals are on the hunt. F.X. Matt was walking around his business just last week when he noticed his units were banged up.

"Shock and dismay," says Matt, remembering his reaction to the beaten-up air conditioners.

In some cases thieves removed the entire unit from the property but at Matt's business on Genesee Street they hollowed out the inside of all the copper and then replaced the cover.

"It's very disturbing anyone would do this. Probably got about $100 worth of scrap to do that kind of damage," said Matt.

The business next door also got hit and just down the road Hobika Law Firm is cleaning up the same mess.

"We had one business that had eight alone stolen and the average of 6, 7, 8,000 dollars to replace you're talking about a huge bill," said Lt. Hauck.

Police haven't made any arrests, so they're telling business owners and residents to stay alert.

"If you have an air conditioner unit check it or see if you see someone hanging around at night around a business, call us cause because there's no business to be out there," said Lt. Hauck.

If caught, the suspects will face felony charges.

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