BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Beaufort County Sheriff's Office is investigating several air conditioning unit thefts throughout northern Beaufort County over the last two months.
Since March 1, authorities have received more than two dozen reports of air conditioning units that have been damaged or stolen from vacant properties on Lady's Island, St. Helena Island and Seabrook.
Investigators say the units are being targeted for the copper they contain, which thieves are able to quickly strip from the units and sell for scrap.
According to the sheriff's office, increasing values of non-ferrous metals, precious metals and other raw materials has fueled the second-hand scraping market, which has incited spikes in the thefts of items such as catalytic converters, manhole covers, copper wiring and stainless steel.
The sheriff's office is reminding citizens that any person wishing to transport and sell any nonferrous metals, including copper and catalytic converters, to a scrap metal dealer must first obtain a permit to transport and sell from the sheriff's office in the county where the seller resides.
Authorities say motorists stopped while transporting those materials must be able to provide a copy of this permit.
Investigators are asking the public to be on the lookout for and report suspicious activity, such as a vehicle transporting multiple AC units or scrap metals, persons seen tampering with and/or removing an AC unit. Property owners are encouraged to regularly check vacant properties.
Anyone with information regarding recent thefts is asked to contact either Investigator MSgt. J. Purdy at 843-255-3403 or SSgt. J. Fraser at 843-255-3416.