Theft of heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units has been a growing problem for several years. In fact, some companies are reporting that 25% of all theft claims are from HVAC unit thefts. Why is this? HVAC units contain copper coils, and with the rising price of copper, thieves are working hard to get hold of this valuable metal. Although the stolen copper rarely sells for more than $100, the cost to repair or replace the unit averages $6500. So what can you do to avoid this?
Something as simple as a sign warning of surveillance and alarms may help. In order for a thief to steal the unit, the power must be shut off. If you have a locking power box, or move the power box indoors, this makes it more difficult. Some business owners install their HVAC units on their roof to restrict access, while others suspend the HVAC unit on the side of a building. Cages are available to protect the unit and keep it secure, but should be well designed and not impede service personnel or block necessary HVAC airflow. Finally, various types of alarm systems are available, such as motion sensors and refrigerant pressure alarms. These can be set to alert a security company immediately, and can be used with a camera to send a video clip of the event that triggered the alarm. While more expensive to install, they may save you thousands in the long run.