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Columbus Police Want To Reduce Air Conditioner Theft

On Tuesday in Akron, a man was electrocuted when police say he tried to steal copper piping from a shopping mall. In Columbus thieves are stealing the insides of air conditioners for their valuable metals. That's why Columbus police are implementing "Operation Cool Down" to reduce the number of air conditioning thefts. At a press conference Mayor Colman said the thefts are plaguing the city. Robert L. Patterson is a deacon at Immanuel Tabernacle Baptist Church Apostolic Faith. Last October he discovered that two of the building's four air conditioners were missing "They were stole between Wednesday and Sunday morning because we had Bible Study Wednesday. I come back over there Saturday to check the building and two of them was gone," says Patterson Less than a month later the other two a/c units were stolen. Commander Bob Meter of the Columbus Division of Police says hundreds of thefts have occurred since late last year. "To date there have been 447 air conditioner theft reports," Meter says. "Some of these reports include more than one air conditioner unit. In one case, a single report included 25 units. As you can see the dollar loss is significant." Thieves are selling the stolen metal at scrap metal dealers. But some 20 dealers now say they'll refuse to buy air conditioning material for 30 days. City and county officials say that should give businesses and homeowners time to mark their air conditioning equipment with invisible ink. After the 30-day moratorium, those same scrap metal dealers will look for invisible ink identification marks. Mayor Coleman says he's confident the plan will work. "I want those criminals and those thieves to know that you cannot get away with stealing these air conditioners because we're on to you," Coleman said. "We're on to you. We know who you are and we're going to put you behind bars." At the same press conference, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien announced the felony indictments of several individuals who are charged with stealing or damaging air conditioning equipment.