Air Conditioner Copper Theft, and Temperatures, Are on the Rise — Seven Tips for Business Owners

Protection Insights to Keep Your Property Safe as Summer Months Approach

If this summer is like the last, New Englanders can expect to see an increase in theft as criminals attempt to access copper arteries of commercial air-conditioning units. The value of copper is still strong — earlier this month Bank of America-Merrill Lynch upgraded its 2012 copper forecast to $3.75 a pound and, according to the FBI, the most recent burglary statistics indicated a 3.5% increase in the Northeast region. Netwatch USA, a full-service protection services company who has expertise combating copper theft across four continents, today announces seven tips to thwart air conditioner copper theft as the summer months approach.

"During difficult economic times, property crime often increases," says former Boston Police Commissioner and Netwatch board member Kathleen O'Toole. "Surprisingly, recent national statistics show an overall decrease in property crime, but mostly in urban areas. In non-metropolitan areas, where intruders are less likely to be detected, property crime has actually increased."

Remote monitoring company Netwatch has prevented countless attempted copper thefts. Here are a few tips from CEO David Walsh to help building owners stay confident and cool as the weather heats up:

  • Set standards. Implement a procedure for nightly, including a last man out sign out sheet to record who has activated any security systems.
  • Add exterior lighting. A well-lit building is less attractive to intruders.
  • Lock it up. Provide staff with a locked cabinet for laptops, smartphones and other electrical items. Remember not to leave petty cash in reception.
  • Never respond to an alarm alone. Have a fellow keyholder with you or have the Police meet you there.
  • Be aware. Do you have visibility of your on-premise commodities? Don't forget about places that contain copper that are sometimes overlooked like gutters.
  • Think defensively. Watch out for access points — how could criminals get onto your property?
  • Review your current security plan. It may not be as cost-effective or prevent crime as well as some newer systems currently on the market.

"Copper, as a security risk, is particularly vulnerable as it is often exposed outdoors and thus, difficult to protect," said Walsh. "We have seen criminals go so far as to dress as construction workers in order to appear legitimate when targeting underground cables or large quantities of metal on building sites. Protecting the perimeter of the site with video processing software, visual verification and audio warnings means that attempted copper theft can be prevented effectively."

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