Air Conditioner Security: Alarm Companies Add Sensors to A/C Units

Security companies are finding some extra business because of air conditioners.

The issue at hand isn't home or business automation to link alarm control systems with over-the-phone or over-the-Web control of automated systems. Rather, the issue is the old fashioned concern of common theft.

News 14 Carolina ( reported last week that a number of businesses around Fayetteville, N.C., have been hit by surprise thefts of air conditioners. The thefts stem from the high value of copper (it's being sold at an all-time high), which is often found in air conditioner coils. Other instances have been reported. In Wichita, KAKE-TV 10 reported that a number of businesses had seen their air conditioners ripped open for the value of the copper contained. One Wichita business indicated that the cost of replacing those air conditioners was approximately $10,000. Back in Fayetteville, N.C., News 14 reported on a law firm that had seen its air conditioning unit robbed of its copper a total of five times.

The thefts are reportedly becoming a business source for alarm companies, who are often being asked to add theft sensors to the air condition units. Still, according to most, the common response is for end users to add secure fences and motion-sensing lights.

Holmes Electric Security Systems is reportedly wiring air conditioner units such that if the unit or copper is stolen, an alarm signal is raised. According to the North Carolina company, which was quoted in News 14's coverage of the thefts, they are getting calls approximately every other day to install air conditioning protection systems.

The theft of copper has become a problem recently as prices have increased. Besides the recent rash of air conditioner parts thefts, telephone utility companies have been repeatedly plagued by copper wire thefts. Thieves have even been known to strip empty buildings of their wiring systems for the value of their copper. Such was the case on May 2 when an historic warehouse/market area of New York fell victim to a substantial fire that authorities say was caused by a man trying to burn the insulation off of copper he had scavenged in the then-empty building.