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Air Conditioner Thefts Leave Residents Boiling

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- As if the heat wave wasn’t bad enough, there have been reports of a worsening problem of stolen air conditioning units in Texas.

This is part of an ongoing problem. These thieves are stealing the copper and other metals, and selling them to make a quick buck. But with a heat wave like this one, stolen air-conditioners are certainly not going unnoticed and are beyond unbearable for many.

Ten units from Chisholm Baptist Church in Rockwall were stolen last week. Someone pilfered the air conditioners, leaving only pipes sticking out of brick walls and congregants sweating through Sunday service.

Authorities say air conditioner thefts are on the rise.

Paula More, a Rylie resident, says she felt “violated” when she came home to check the thermostat, and discovered her AC unit outside was gone.  Her new unit cost her $2,200, and is now protected by a cage.

The consequences can be dire. Last month, Dolores Grissom was found dead of heat-related causes, two days after her air conditioner was stolen.

In Dallas, all thefts involving metal are assigned to a three-detective metal theft squad. The unit handles about 15 to 22 offenses a day, most involving air conditioning units.

And thieves have also been known to cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage just to steal a few hundred dollars’ worth of copper.

When the First Evangelist Church of God in Christ in Pleasant Grove, Texas wouldn’t cool down, congregants discovered their air conditioner was in pieces because all the copper had been removed.

Authorities have been upping the stakes in the battle against copper thefts for years. Dallas enacted an ordinance to make it more difficult for metal thieves to sell their wares at scrap yards in 2008.

A new state law going into effect Sept. 1 will require scrap dealers to create detailed records of their purchases, including the collection of sellers’ thumbprints and video or photos of the seller.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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