Air Conditioning Unit Thefts

Air Conditioning Units

Over the last several months, the Winston-Salem Police Department has seen an increase in copper metal thefts from air conditioning units. Please know that the Winston-Salem Police Department takes these cases seriously and currently the detectives of the Criminal Investigation Division are investigating these cases to the fullest extent possible.

With most every home having an air conditioning unit we rarely think of how or should we protect this investment. The answer to that is simple; protect it as you would anything else. Those who are committing these crimes are targeting unit that is isolated by vegetation and located on the rear of the home away from the street allowing concealment to work and disassemble the unit. They are also targeting units when people are not at home or rental property is vacant.

Several products can be purchased to protect against this type of crime. Some of those products include alarm sensors installed by professionals designed to activate when the unit is disconnected or moved. Additionally many companies are making steel mesh cages that go over the unit to prevent it from being opened or moved. Some more less expensive options would be to keep bushes and gardens at a minimum around these units. Keep the area around the unit well lit and increase visibility. For those who have rental property, ask neighbors to keep an eye on the property and ask them to call and report anything out of the ordinary. As with any suspicious activity or unusual occurrence, please take a few minutes and report it to the police. Keep in mind that those committing these crimes are likely creating a lot of noise to move and disassemble the unit.

In addition to securing you AC unit also remember to secure the crawl space to your home.  Detectives have investigated cases where criminals have crawled under homes and removed copper pipes causing unnoticeable and costly damage.

Metal Thefts - A Nationwide Epidemic [pdf/1.62mb/26p]

Door-to-Door Salesmen

The Winston-Salem Police Department would like to remind you to use caution when answering the door. In the past, we have investigated home burglaries where someone poses as a service worker or salesperson. These criminals are great communicators and can easily distract you while their partner commits the theft. Below are a few things to remember when someone knocks at your door:

  • Confirm the identity of the person at the door before you open it.
  • If you do not recognize the person at the door, tell them to go away or you will call the police.
  • If you open the door, ask for credentials from the person. If they cannot provide any, call the company they represent and confirm they are there for a reason.
  • Be cautious of pushy salesmen. Ask them to leave, and if they refuse, call the police.
  • Report suspicious persons and vehicles to the police. Be as descriptive as possible.
  • Most often companies will notify you in advance of unexpected service work.
  • If a representative is there for a legitimate reason, they will understand and cooperate.

For more crime prevention information, please visit the crime prevention section of our web site, by e-mail at, or by calling the Crime Prevention Unit at (336) 773-7835.

Daytime Housebreaking Information

woman looking out through a door peepholeRecently, the Winston Salem Police Department has seen an increase in daytime house break-ins. The suspects are ringing doorbells or knocking to see if anyone will answer the door. If no one answers the door, the suspect will breach the front or back door. If someone does open the door, the suspect will make up a story saying their vehicle has broken down, they lost their dog, they’re looking for work, etc. We would like to remind you to never open your door for someone that you do not know. It is suggested to acknowledge the person’s presence at the door by saying, “go away,” “I’m calling the police,” etc. When you look outside to identify the subject at the door, get a good description: height, weight, age, clothing description, mode of travel (on foot or in a vehicle). Be as specific as possible, did the jacket have a different color liner, was there fur around the hood? Please report these incidents to the police as soon as possible.

Crime Prevention Tips

  • Most Important – Lock your doors and windows at all times (both your home and vehicle).
  •  Complete a home inventory of your property
    • Make
    • Model
    • Serial Number
    • OAN (Owner Applied Number) usually your NCDL # but NEVER your SS#
    • Personal Identifiers (Scratch on top of TV, paint splatter, etc.)
    • Take pictures of your property.
    • Photograph jewelry (make a specific description of the items).
    • Personal messages engraved in rings or pendants.
    • Photograph old coins and document their value.
  • If you have a safe, remember to lock it. Also, bolt it to the wall or floor. If you can move it, so can they.
  • Secure your out buildings. Document serial numbers for your lawn equipment as well as your tools. Remember to lock the door.
  • Cut off bushes at about 3 feet and tree limbs at about 6 feet from the ground.
  • Maintain a lived-in appearance while away from home.
    • Use timers for lights and radios
    • Have a trusted neighbor collect the mail and newspaper, or suspend those services while away.
  • Display alarm decals and signs.
  • Close blinds and windows. By leaving them open you are allowing the criminal to window shop.
  • Take part in Neighborhood Watch – attend meetings and take an active role.
  • The police can’t be on every street corner every second of the day. You are our best eyes and ears, and we need your help to catch those responsible.
  • Change your daily patterns. Criminals look for the easiest opportunity given to them.
  • Home Repairs – Don’t let anyoneyou don't know in your home to complete repair work. Use trusted and reputable companies. They may not take anything, but they may tell their friends about the nice things you have.

Please visit the Crime Prevention section of the Winston Salem Police Department web site for more Crime Prevention information.

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