Thieves In Chatham Targeting Air Conditioners

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of the Chatham neighborhood have been put on notice to keep an eye on their air conditioners.

Thieves have been sneaking into back yards and crawling onto rooftops to steal entire central air conditioning units.

As CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman learned, a rash of central air theft on the South Side prompted one neighborhood to put out a warning.

One Chatham resident, who asked to be identified only as “Randi” is using not one lock, but three, to protect her new air conditioner after thieves made off with her old one.

Asked if she ever thought someone would walk away with a central air unit, Randi said, “not in my wildest dreams.”

She said whoever stole the air conditioner was obviously very professional, because they didn’t leave any bolts or screws behind and she didn’t hear a thing.

“I’ve just been going door-to-door, letting my neighbors know, look, our air conditioner got stolen. At first, they’re like, ‘You all have central air, what do you mean your air conditioner got stolen?’” “My air conditioner got stolen. So they came by and they’re like, ‘How in the world did they do that? Everyone is in awe.”

She still isn’t certain exactly how they stole the whole thing.

Randi woke up one late June morning to a hot house. Her thermostat wasn’t registering. Out back, all she and her family found was an empty slab.

“We’re just jumping up and down, like, no, no,” she said.

Her warnings definitely helped.

When a neighbor checked on his unit, he found it prepped for theft.

“Two of his bolts were unscrewed and his Freon lines were cut,” Randi said.

Turns out central air conditioning units are a hot commodity with thieves.

There’s word of a central air theft spree in the Chatham neighborhood on, a neighborhood news blog.

Chicago police said it’s an ongoing problem that’s affected the whole city for awhile now.

But Bernard Azrikam of The Price is Right Heating and Cooling said he’s seen a spike in such thefts of late.

“It’s happening a lot more than I’ve ever seen before … in three to six months,” he said.

Zzrikam believes it’s a sign of tough money times.

Theives who take the whole unit, which can weigh about 125 pounds, are looking to sell the copper and aluminum coil inside.

So Randi and some of her neighbors have cage protection now for their A/C units.

“I just can’t afford for someone to come and take it again,” Randi said.

Insurance covered some of the cost to replace the air conditioner, but the total cost of the cage and the new air conditioner was about $1,500 for Randi

And to think, our expert said the thieves only get about $25 for their haul.

Professionals advise to lock up air conditioners and the disconnect box to make the unit harder to steal.

  • Chicago News Stories for Jul 05 2011 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] say he was dead, but on Tuesday the Bartlett resident was breathing and talking about what happened.Thieves In Chatham Targeting Air ConditionersResidents of the Chatham neighborhood have been put on notice to keep an eye on their air […]

  • Vince

    I Hope You’re Right. SHOOT TO KILL!!!!

    • Kent

      They’re freaking looters! No trial, no reports to file. God Bless Bocephus.

  • Doug

    As usual, law enforcement-types don’t seem to be going after the people who buy the stolen goods. Wouldn’t it help to take away the market?

    • Ron Wagner

      They need to require strict records of all purchases by salvage companies. Things like A/C units and manhole covers etc. should require photos of those turning them in for salvage with dates and copies of their licenses.

      • MarkinAtlanta

        They do that in Atlanta, but it doesn’t do any good because A: the cops do not bother to check, just write a report and B: because it is hard to tell whose copper belongs to who, they do not take the unit intact, they chop it up and take the coil and freon lines. Manhole covers are another matter, I’ve heard that some of these operations are big enough to melt it down first. I saw a story a few weeks ago where some theives actually stole freggin RR rails, and the train derailed. Those things weigh a ton and the recycling places supposedly will not take the rails, so they must be melting them down. There really is no good solution except to move away from these animals if possible…

      • Steve

        Good answer MarkinAtlanta, I work in the metal salvage industry and it’s incredibly difficult at times to determine which copper belongs to different units, ie, chopped, burnt, ect. This ruins the market for the other people who bring their legit items in.

      • John McCombs

        Sorry, Steve, but that’s not good enough. The salvage industry is going to have to become responsible for purchasing stolen goods. If you can’t figure out how to do it on your own, then some politician who knows nothing about your world will step in and do it for you. It’s your choice.

    • NonYa

      It would help even more if you shot the thieves.

      • mauldigger

        Amen. I would not hesitate to shoot to kill a thief.

      • Liberty and Freedom

        It would… but notice it’s Chicago and they have some of the strictest anti-gun laws in the US.

  • Mike

    ….and yet Rham Emmanuel and the law enforcement is focusing on giving anti-Palin speechs.

    • lookunderrocks

      Right on

      • holypig

        Detroit and Chicago should just be used as bomb test sites and then bulldozed under. They are to far gone to be saved. The same should have been done to New Orleans.

    • BO the BFer

      keep up with your anus licking

    • SockRayBlue

      That’s a very big assumption on your part. I was born and raised in Chicago on the Southside and I grew up to hate thieves. Now what is wrong with this?

      • Leroy Goldberg

        What is wrong with this you ask? You were born and raised on the SOUTHSIDE.


    • Marty

      Typical democrat hack…

    • c

      because Rahm was put their to create a mess….

    • The K Man

      Yes and Yes! So tired of my city getting bashed with every Drudge update. Also, since when did gun totin’ Texans lay claim to represent America?

      Sorry for the rant.

      • John

        Your city is not getting bashed with every Drudge update. Drudge simply mines the internet for news and puts links to the most spectacular stories on his page. Your city and its citizens contained therein are trashing themselves.

      • bigtimeliberal

        k man your right to be proud of your city i mean chicago

      • MarkInAtlanta

        Waaaahhh, my “great” city just got busted in the largest school cheating scandle in US history, not going to be good for what is left of our home values…

      • C. Brown

        No – just blacks being blacks everywhere.. Imagine

  • madge

    “It’s a sign of tough money times?” No, it is a sign of the absolute lack of a sense of right and wrong.

  • Chris

    Or just take it from the “rich millionaires and billionaires.”

    • Cogito ergo sum

      You’re kidding right? You think that liberals actually give that money to poor people. The majority goes to the central banks, Wall St., and the military-industrial complex. They just pretend like they’re helping the poor. Do you know who the biggest profiteer from food stamps is? J.P. Morgan. The Democrats and Republicans are both corrupt and love that you all think they’re different. As long as you continue to believe that we actually have 2 parties in this country, their divide and conquer scheme will never cease. The only 2 parties in this country are US vs. THEM. The theives in Washington vs. the taxpayers. People need to figure this out quickly, however it may be too late anyway.

      • Reason8200

        The problem is only 50% of the people pay taxes and the other 50% vote for whatever politician promises them the most free money and government programs. Say what you want, but it is the democrats that this moocher class always votes for. Take that with the money laudering scheme the democrats enjoy with government unions.

    • Cold_Conservative

      You mean ‘the true villains of society’… those guys making over $250K.. flying those corporate jets? “Like a G6… like a G6..” How easy is is to blame the wealthy and the successful for your own failure. Class envy. Steal from others.

      • bubble boy

        you are RIGHT

  • snapperman

    Chicago must be a perfectly dreadful place to exist.

    • Sage0925

      As an OTR driver, trust me…you guys don’t know the half of it. You can’t even park your rig any place but a truck stop, or someplace with security, because thieves will steal your load, and sometimes the whole trailer. I even know a few guys that had the truck stolen while they were out of sight of the vehicle.

      Chicago? There ain’t enough money in the world for me to live in that cesspit.

    • max

      I live there, and every day I look for jobs in other states. Usually many states away. You can’t leave anything out. If you decorate for holidays, somebody will mess with the decorations. Bike left outside? Bye bye bike. Got any empty bottles or wrappers? Just throw them on the ground! I hate this place.

      • Aaron

        Please just make sure where ever you go you don’t vote like they do in Chicagoland!


      Yes We Can Build a YES WE CAN!

    • Steve Padilla

      Police: We know nothing we see nothing and vote democrat

    • willie

      All of them are bad and all of them are loaded with Obama-ites.

    • Stuart

      This AC theft has been happening in Houston, TX for over a year. These thieves are also breaking PVC conduit w/ sledgehammers at the outside meter boxes, cutting the feeder lines one phase at a time, cutting them at the pole and stealing the copper lines by tieing on to the end with chain and truck and pulling the cables out of the underground conduit. They are also stealing the bronze flower urns out of the graveyards off the headstones – hundreds of them!

      Let’s go muslim and cut off some hands!

    • Scott

      Aren’t all those places run by democracts?

    • John in So Cal

      Nope, in LA the perps would still get plugged [or capped, depending on what neighborhood you’re talkin’ about.]

  • Unsocial Security

    Put a driveway alarm by your AC (high enough so pets don’t trigger it). when it goes off, then you take necessary measures to stop theft.

    • Robert Frost

      You all have the right to carry, and not just concealed.

      Its in the 2nd ammendment to the constitution.

    • ela funt

      I suspect Chicago politicians are stealing the air-conditiones. After all, they are the biggest bunch of crooks in the country.

      • Sage0925

        Nah…that would require actual WORK, you know, the manual, sweaty kind. I’d think the ballerina would get upset if he broke a nail.

    • Sky0505

      Two words,TWELVE GAUGE! They are still legal even in this state

    • Castle Doctrine

      If someone is walking into my driveway to steal my A/C, I will be carrying a shotgun in hand, not concealing some pistol.

    • mark

      That’s why you have the crime. In states like Texas where you are allowed to carry a gun and defend your property, you don’t have this kind of problem. When people are preyed upon enough, they will either take action or move. Just wait until a criminal gets hurt on the property of a home owner and then goes to sue them!


      LOL!!! I love it. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. I’m so glad I live in a state that allows C&C.

  • Funy Rabbi

    The part of the AC unit in the picture, which is the only part that is outside of the house, is not really the AC unit. It’s just the fan part. The actual cooling unit is in the house.

    • TheRealKingMax

      You’re kidding, right?

      The A/C unit they’re taking is the compressor/heat exchanger component. To replace it (and the Freon that leaked out when they cut the coolant/return copper lines is an easy $1000+, $1800 & up for larger units.

      Not really the A/C unit? See how well the system runs WITHOUT the “just the fan part”.

      • K

        It is called a Condensing Unit and does contain the compressor which is a costly part of the entire system.

    • Shrek

      Actually the exterior/outside piece is the part that compresses the gaseous freon back to liquid form, so it can flow back into the interior unit where it can evaporate again into a gas — thus providing the cooling function. Compression is a heating process/ expansion or evaporation is a cooling process. High school physics.

      The outside unit has a lot of copper and aluminum in the compressor motor and the heat exchange coils. AND a fan to blow air across the heat exchange coils to make them more efficient.

      The cooling part of the AC unit is indeed inside the house.

      Heat pumps are essentially AC units that run in reverse to produce heat by compressing the freon — the opposite of the summer process.

      • StaticKlingon

        You might be condenser if………..

      • luddite

        if you all just got rid of your AC unit you wouldn’t have this problem, you’d save money on your energy bills and you’d help reduce carbon emissions. I think the real problem is more to do with the excessive consumerism that drives society that then individuals in it.

      • Awesomeness

        LOL @ luddite. What a perfect example of hypocrisy you are. Posting such rhetoric on the INTERNET while using a COMPUTER to do so. Oh yeah, consumerism is the root of all evil (*rofl*).

        I can also guess which party you voted for in the last election since you state that it’s the fault of the victim for being victimized and not the perpetrator.


      • TheRealKingMax


        You’re splitting hairs, and not making much sense.

        You say that the “cooling part of the AC unit is indeed in the house”.

        Technically, yes – BECAUSE THE COMPRESSOR OUTSIDE HAS COMPRESSED THE FREON, and the cold Freon goes into a simple fan driven exchange unit inside the house.

        Which will be utterly worthless with the compressor unit compressing the Freon (making it cold) to send inside, and returning the warm Freon to be compressed over & over again.

        High school physics.

      • Shrek

        King max – lighten up – my response was to the first post, not yours.

        You and I agree.

  • SEC

    They’ll probably blame it on George Bush.

    • residents of chicago

      It’s already been established in this thread that Obama is to blame

      • amitor

        Yes, Is Obumas faul,t: instead of organizing the communities, he let the zoo out.

  • David Bennett


    if you can’t use the firearm to protect your property then the liberals (and some conservatives by the by) don’t even need to implement more gun control as they already would have it.


    Right on!!

    • MarkinAtlanta

      I have a conceal carry permit, but you cannot shoot someone just for taking your property, especially outside your house. Your life has to be in danger, most of the cops I have spoken to would like for you to cap these idiots, but it is the liberal judge that will decide your fate.

      • MarkinAtlanta

        I meant that post as a reply, the laws obviously vary from state to state regarding shooting someone, if they break in my house all bets are off though.

      • jimat

        In Texas, the law allows for an individual to protect his propert from trespassers there to steal it.
        It has already been court tested.

      • MarkInAtlanta

        You are absolutely right, that is why I corrected my post jimat, wish I lived in Texas.

      • desperado_58m

        better be tried by twelve than carried by six

  • TheRealKingMax

    Wow – and the media acts like stealing A/C is something new…

    Come to Florida: the further south you go, the faster the A/C units disappear.

    And the refrigerators.

    And the microwaves.

    And the ovens.

    And anything else under 600 pounds that isn’t bolted, welded and glued to the floor….

    • chloe

      agree. i also live in florida and they do steal them if they get the chance. ours is old as dirt. keep wishing someone will take it but no such luck. feel sorry for the ones though that have lost theirs. hope they catch the you know what’s.

    • fletchs

      Come to south Georgia and try to steal mine. Somebody is not walking away. If my dogs don’t get ya, my 45 don’t miss.

      • livefreeordie

        Ditto. I live in N GA. They may come for the copper, but they’ll end up with lead.

    • bubble boy

      and intelligent juries

  • jpelle82

    this is nothing new…happens in florida all day long. i work for a security company and more people from florida call about cameras for their ac units than any other reason

  • RobertG

    Quite a city you have there. We have that in Phoenix but we shoot one of the little darlings from time to time just to keep them wondering. You can’t do that there can you? But then insurance can HELP pay for the lost unit–in five or six weeks in the sweltering heat. You people best take charge–notice the police DO NOT show up in time to stop a theft do they? “EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL, white, rich, people?

  • Savanna

    I am to the conclusion that there is not right or wrong anymore. If it makes you feel good then you are right. Darn be others. I am 44 yrs old, came from a hard working family and now life really doesnt mean a pile of beans. Just saying, I have to get closer to my Maker.

    • a_patriot

      “I am to the conclusion that there is not right or wrong anymore”

      Its called “Relativism” or “everything is not black and white, right or wrong, just relative”

      Its the trash theyve been teaching in the schools lately, indoctrinating the Children with.

  • AtlasObjectivist

    Well, that will never happen only police, alderman and criminals have guns in Chicago. The rest of us have been stripped of our second amendment rights.

  • joe P

    If I don’t have central air i will soon, file a false claim, anyone?

  • Melvin

    If you happen to be the one who gets their A/C unit stolen, pack a overnight bag and go over to Mayor Rahm’s house. His mansion is plenty cold. Hey Chicago you need to get rid of that worthless bag of gas of a police chief. All he does is flap his gum with allot of worthless talk.
    I’ve seen some sorry police chiefs but yours takes the cake.

    • chloe

      don’t move to florida though for justice. we let mother’s who kill their 2 year old get away with murder and then let them write about it or sell their story and become multibillionaires eventually.

  • righthearted

    Out Doors is exactly on target (no pun intended) with his comment. When a few people are smart enough to wire their units to make the thieves think they’ve been fried…or maybe fry them for real…and be sure THAT gets in the media too!…some of that kind of nonsense might stop!! Maybe a STRONG electric fence set about a foot out from the unit…the kind that keep livestock in….and set it as high as it’ll go…let me tell you, if the thieves hit that, they’ll KNOW they’ve been hit…it’ll probably put them on their butts!!! If these morons have to stop and wonder…”hmm, will I SURVIVE if I touch this unit??” it just might keep them from doing these kinds of things. And security cameras and very bright, motion sensor lights/sirens in the area wouldn’t hurt either.

    • Dave

      An when they get hurt, they will sue and a liberal court will fine or imprison the home owner.

      • MarkinAtlanta

        Exactly right Dave.

  • JRS

    They’ve been doing this in Atlanta for years. I’ve caged all of my rental properties and my personal home because when the tenants move out they strip the unit off the building and then say it was stolen.

  • Fed up Taxpayer

    Send them and their rotten parents to Arizona Tent Prison where its 122 in the shade!

  • Nonyabisnass Patrick

    what did you expect from the most vile and filthly city in the country? Obama brought the chicago smell to DC

    • JOE


    • John Sheridan

      Right, the millions who flock to the urban Meccas like NYC, Chicago and LA are just seeking their share of social justice at the expense of someone else. Unfortunately, they have run out of that someone else’s money. Why anyone would voluntarily live within 200 miles of any of them is beyond me.

    • Mark

      WOW! With that many people paying taxes, your state must be in excellent financial health and one of the best school systems in the country. Oh, wait these this “The Civic Federation, one of the state’s most prominent tax watchdog groups, released a report Monday saying that raising the personal income tax rate by 66 percent–among other hikes–is the only way Illinois can repair its “horrific” financial situation, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. AND Illinois Has Days to Plug $13 Billion Deficit That Took Years to Produce…/illinois-must-plug-13-billion-deficit-in-day. You must be so proud, I’ll keep my Red Neck State were taxes are low, we are in fiscal solvency, our child can easily pass a basic proficiency test and instead of stealing from our neighbors we help them regards of wealth, race, religion, gender or sexual preference. Thank you Lord that I and my family live in a Red Neck State!

    • ron

      Chicago is a dump. Chicago is responsible for breeding more criminals than any other city in the USA.

      • Don Gibb

        LOL a dump.Chicago is a gorgeous city. I would love to see what backwards ass town you come from.

  • Don

    As an HVAC contractor, I have seen this problem around the southern part of the city for the past 3 summers. This is nothing new… Including climbing onto the top of commercial shopping plazas and hacking the roof top units apart, causing thousands of dollars in damage, for a hundred bucks worth of copper and aluminum.

    And DON’T cage your air conditioner in with METAL fencing. They will steal that too.

  • Ryan Ritenour

    R-22 compressors are worth more like $1000. Heck with the recycling.

    • a_patriot

      theres not enough copper to be worth it, they are probably selling the units on Craigslist.

  • Not cool. | World's Only Rational Man

    […] Not cool at all, dudes. […]

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