Thieves make off with heat & air units in Lafayette - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Thieves make off with heat & air units in Lafayette

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Some thieves in North Georgia are leaving their victims in the cold. Police in Lafayette say they're stealing heating and air units to cash in on the copper wiring. They've already hit up a church, business and home in the same neighborhood.

It's a crime that not only costs the victims thousands of dollars, but also leaves them without heat just in time for winter.

Pit Stop #5 is a family-owned convenient store and deli on South Chattanooga Street in Lafayette.

"That one apparently took the whole thing, and that one they also messed it up and took the copper out of that one, and there's one more on top of the building, which they took copper out of," Tilak Patel said.

The Patels realized all their copper wiring was gone, even from the roof, when their coolers stopped working. It spoiling ingredients like milk and chicken, and caused them to lose valuable beer business over the weekend.
"Not to mention the damage that's already cost $5,000 to $6,000, but also business damage," Patel said.

They've forked out the money bring the coolers back to life, but they're bundled up as they serve customers without heat in the store.

"I was shocked because they didn't stop at one," Patel said.

The House of Prayer Church just down the street got hit, too. Thieves made off with a $4,000 heating and air unit there. Then, they got a window air unit from a nearby home.

"It's a lot of copper wiring in the actual guts of the unit itself, it's copper so it can be pretty lucrative," Lafayette Police Captain Stacey Meeks said.

Lafayette Police say money-making crimes are pretty much a holiday-time tradition and copper, especially from large commercial units, can add up. It's worth around a few dollars per pound at scrap yards.

"Those things are very heavy and they're big and bulky so you know, at least two people involved that's what we theorize," Captain Meeks said.

It seems to be the same thieves at each location.

"Compared cut marks on the tubing and it appeared to be the same tool, same method of operation, same perpetrator involved," Captain Meeks said.

"If these guys don't get arrested, they're probably going to keep on doing it over and over again," Patel said.

Investigators say the local scrap yards have been a big help to the investigation. They have recovered some evidence. But, they're welcoming the public's help, too. All three thefts happened overnight Friday into Saturday around South Chattanooga Street.

If you saw anything suspicious, you're asked to call the Lafayette Police Department at 706-639-1540.

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