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Air conditioning thefts leave residents in a fury

Updated: Wednesday, August 7 2013, 10:06 PM EDT

By Jon rudder

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio - A string of thefts involving air conditioners in Mingo Junction has local residents in a fury.

The thefts weren't of small window units, but heavy condenser units, and officials say the thieves are stealing them from behind local businesses.

What may be even more startling is not the fact that they're making off with air conditioning units that are hundreds of pounds, but the fact that the wires they are cutting to free them are live.

"We've got thieves coming and stealing, cutting through electrical wires that are live and not only stealing the outdoor unit, but it's damaging the indoor unit,so they (the victims) have to replace both pieces of equipment," John Cutri of Mingo Junction said.

In total, four recent reports of stolen units have been filed with the Mingo Police Department. The price to repair a unit isn't cheap, and businesses likely have to pay for it themselves.

"If it's one unit, they're looking at $5,000-$7,000," Cutri said. "They're taking two units off of one building, and they have absolutely no air conditioning, they're getting into a substantial amount. This is not petty theft, this is major theft."

Cutri is a Mingo Junction resident who was helping to repair the units. Cutri said he's amazed that the thief, or thieves, were able to cut through a live wire to remove the air conditioners.

"They're taking a chance with their lives because one of these times, they're going to cut into one that's live and it's going to be a three-phase voltage or something of more magnitude, and it's going to kill them, and we're going to find someone out here dead."

A few local businesses even took matters into their own hands and installed metal caging around their air conditioning units. Still, others weren't lucky enough to avoid a costly replacement.

"The gentleman just had to reach into his pocket and put out a substantial amount of cash to get something to take care of before he can benefit from the upcoming actions that's going on in the community," Cutri said.

Air conditioning thefts leave residents in a fury

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