FLINT TWP. —Police Chief George Sippert is asking for public assistance in thwarting a rash of airconditioner thefts by metal scrappers.
“In the last two months, we have seen quite a significant increase in airconditioning units being stolen from commercial buildings,’’ Sippert said in his report to the township Board of Trustees at its Jan. 23 meeting.
While it has long been a common problem at vacant homes, the thefts are a recent occurrence at occupied buildings, he said.
Sippert said the thefts are happening during the night and business owners usually are not aware of it until long after the fact.
One Linden Road commercial strip had almost all of its units stolen over a three month period, Sippert said.
“We want to make the public aware of that when they see a truck parked alongside a commercial building.” he said, noting that some thieves are being mistaken for legitimate repairmen.
The public often is not alerted when they see a truck parked next to a commercial building and it looks like someone is working on the air conditioning unit, Sippert said, who is encouraging people to report those too.
People taking notice of suspicious activity has helped the police make more than six arrests, Sippert said.
Most recently, police arrested thieves when one of three stolen AC units fell off the back of their truck at Linden and Corunna roads at 3 in the morning.
Someone called it in while the thieves were trying to reload the unit back on the truck.
Sippert said he has been getting several phone calls from frustrated business owners about the stolen units which can costs thousands of dollars to replace.
“They don’t know what they can do to keep their properties safe,” he said.
Police are diligently pursuing the problem including visiting junk yards that accept scrap metal, to try to address it from that angle.
“It is a problem moving into our community,’’ Sippert said.
Besides AC units, metal thieves also target plumbing fixtures, manhole covers, utility company electric substations, vehicle catalytic converters and aluminum siding, gutters and roofs.