Thieves steal 4 air conditioners from roof of Phoenix strip mall

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PHOENIX – Thieves somehow managed to steal four full-size air-conditioning units from the roof of a strip mall at 43rd Avenue and Bell Road this week, and the business owners believe they did it piece by piece.

“They’ve taken everything,” said Andy Nguyen, who owns a nail salon in the strip mall. “I can’t even think of how they did it.”

The thieves sawed through the copper pipe to free the units so they could be removed.

“It’s a big deal, but what are you going to do?” said Ron Snethen, who owns a tile and carpet company.

He shelled out $5,000 for a new air conditioner for his business just a few years ago.

The units are huge and heavy, weighing several hundred pounds.

“These guys are organized and this isn’t the first time that they’ve done this, obviously,” Snethen said. “How do you steal four air conditioners in just a couple of hours? You’ve got to know what you’re doing. It’s not like stealing a bubble gum machine.”

While lack of heat or air conditioning is not too much of a burden this weekend, the temperatures are expected to drop significantly in the next few days.

The business owners are now talking to the property manager and their insurance companies to see what can be done.

It’s not known what happened to the stolen air conditioning units.

Several scrap-yard owners told 3TV that selling the units would be no small task.

Arizona law (ARS 44-1642) requires scrap metal dealers to keep a log of transactions of more than $25. That log is supposed to contain a photograph and description of the scrap metal involved, as well as the seller's description, signature, a photo, a fingerprint and a copy of his or her current driver license or ID. In addition, payment for the scrap metal has to be mailed to the seller at a physical address.

The law also says that scrap metal sellers cannot skirt the log requirements by breaking a load of scrap metal into a group of smaller transactions.