Updated: Tuesday, 19 Jun 2012, 4:29 PM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 22 May 2012, 6:52 PM EDT
PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) - At least two businesses in Portsmouth have been hit by copper thieves this month, forcing the installation of security cameras.
"We had to put up cameras and hope they get caught," said one victim after thieves made off with an air conditioning unit and its copper tubing outside the Churchland-area business.
Sometime overnight on May 11, Renae McConnell says someone caused more than $5,000 in replacement costs while stealing a unit.
"They cut the wire or the copper and took a 9-ton unit, a huge carrier. It cost about $8,000 to replace," McConnell said.
Across the street at Harvey's Hot Dogs, the manager, Shauna Gile was alerted to the theft by a customer.
"I said 'What are you talking about?'" she told WAVY.com. "He said the whole unit was gone off the side of the building. So I came outside. I couldn't believe it."
Copper from those units sometimes end up at scrap metal yards. Doug Moses of Dubin Metals said he's not allowed to purchase stolen copper so he has to ask lots of questions about where the metal came from.
"We have no way of knowing. Now if the same individual is not in the heating and A/C business comes by twice a day, day after day, that's a red flag and when that happens we notify police," Moses said.
Anyone with copper to sell has to have a government-issued ID beforehand and all transactions are reported to police.
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