Affordable Solution to Copper Theft?

Copper theft has officially reached epidemic proportions. According to recent news reports, the problem with copper theft is so bad that the City of Sacramento has had to set aside literally millions in order to try to grapple with the problem. Preventing copper theft is difficult; copper is an important manufacturing and electrical material, and due to the ever increasing value of the once-cheap industrial metal, copper thieves have discovered just how easy it is to grow rich by hitting unprotected stores of copper.

“Air conditioning units are particularly vulnerable—especially when there is a “Vacancy” sign in front of a rental property,” says Joe Bertolucci, owner of Affordable Heating and Air ( “Thieves know that air conditioning units are full of copper, and because it only takes moments to steal, they see unprotected units as easy money.”

Unfortunately for property managers, multiple air conditioning units in rental properties are especially enticing targets for copper theft. “When thieves see several units located relatively close together, they know that they can steal a lot of copper all at once,” explains Bertolucci. “When that happens, the air conditioning units usually cannot be repaired and have to be replaced.” As a result, many property managers have searched for a cost-effective way to protect their air conditioning units. However, the price-tag for protecting a system isn’t cheap: the usual solution–an iron or chain link “A/C cage”–can cost hundreds of dollars per unit.

Fortunately, Bertolucci–who once worked in the home-security industry installing alarm systems–may have discovered a relatively inexpensive yet highly effective method of stopping the ease in which copper is stolen from air conditioners. “Copper theft is similar to the way that crooks steal expensive wheel rims off of a car,” notes Bertolucci. “Wheel thieves usually use an electric wrench to quickly remove the lug nuts and steal the rims; copper is stolen in the same way, and it only take seconds for a skilled person to remove the access screws and take the copper.”

Bertolucci’s solution to stopping copper theft is similar to the way wheel theft is thwarted: special security screws that cannot be removed without the use of a specialized key-tool. “This is what stops the copper bandits cold in their tracks,” he says, holding up a pair of unique-looking machine screws. “Replacing the factory screws with these specialized security-screws can completely defeats and frustrates the would-be copper thief,” he says. “Most thieves depend on speed and stealth, and once they discover they can’t open the unit to get at the copper, they will move on to an easier target.”

Bertolucci has been using his anti-theft device for about a year with great success. Because of this success, he has been offering inspections to advise property managers as to whether or not his security system will be helpful; if so, it could provide an affordable deterrent to having the copper theft epidemic.

For more information email Joe Bertolucci at or call him at 916-922-2775.

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