Weatherford Democrat

Big Story AM

July 20, 2011

A/C unit thefts take toll

WEATHERFORD — After three air conditioning units were destroyed July 2, in a string of metal thefts in Parker County, about 30 members of Hope Lutheran Church in Springtown have been holding 10 a.m. Sunday morning services with the sanctuary doors propped open and box fans set on the tables.

Condenser coils were reported stolen from the air conditioning units, leaving them damaged.

Though the church has been holding services, the heat has prompted cancellation of its monthly Sunday afternoon potluck.

One of the units was brand new, according to Clark.

Still, the church is counting its blessings — insurance with a low deductible and untouched units.  

“At least they didn’t bother the A/C in the school rooms,” church member Georgette Clark said.

Daycare service is provided in that area of the church during the week.

Clark, former church council president, said she suggested they fence their units a couple years ago when copper metal thefts started hitting the news, but the small church couldn’t afford the cost.

Even fencing hasn’t stopped the thieves, who reportedly struck six other Parker County churches.

Days after the July 2 theft, Faith Presbyterian Church in Aledo had a unit stolen from the side of the building and the gated enclosure damaged, according to the Parker County Sheriff’s Office.

Nearly $60,000 in damage was reported at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Aledo in May, when five rooftop units were dismantled.

“There has been a recent increase in property crimes and air conditioning thefts,” Parker County Sheriff Fowler said following a recent burglary. “We strongly suggest residents and business owners take precautions and invest in security systems, locks and report any and all suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.”

Weatherford police are also fighting a barrage of air conditioning thefts believed to be a result of the rising price for scrap metal.

More than 15 reports regarding stolen air conditioning units and parts from businesses in the area of Santa Fe Drive, North Bankhead Drive and south of Interstate 20 have been taken since April 2011, according to the department.

Multiple vacant homes and houses under construction have also been raided during nighttime hours, according to police.

Weatherford police urge residents to help combat the thefts by reporting suspicious activity by calling the police department immediately — 911 if it is progress or the non-emergency line at 817-598-4300.

The Parker County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency number is 817-594-8845.

Police advise residents not to interfere with anyone suspected of committing a theft, but to provide the dispatcher with as much information as possible — including the location, a description of suspects and vehicles and license plate numbers.

Those with information are also encouraged to call Parker County Crime Stoppers at 817-599-5555 or 1-800-942-STOP. A reward of up to $1,000 has been offered for those providing information leading to the arrest or indictment of those responsible. Callers may remain anonymous.

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