Since I was picking on him some let me highlight an interesting bit of reporting from TBD’s Jeremy Binckes:

Air conditioners are being plucked from windows in Washington County by thieves who, presumably, are selling the units as scrap metal. This is not unusual. In this horrible economy, people have resorted to stealing all sorts of weird, boring things.

Copper is fairly valuable, and abundant in air conditioners and electrical wiring. While copper is most commonly stolen from homes under construction or renovation — in Bethesda, for instance, with its fancy gutters — earlier this year the D.C. Department of Transportation battled a string of thefts of copper wire from underground conduits that power sidewalk lights and lighted street signs.

Also fairly valuable: aluminum. Last week, the following was stolen from a construction site in Anne Arundel County: 22 pieces of aluminum equipment, 12 pieces of scaffolding, 17 guard rails, eight guard posts, 10 brackets, 11 long guard rails and 14 cross braces.

Railroad property has also been hit. In April, 2,500 pounds of materials were stolen from a Norfolk Southern rail yard in Hagerstown, Md. Everything in that heist — including spikes, track plates and a four-foot rail — was loaded into a minivan, which, we can only imagine, was also sold for scrap metal.

Thieves in our region are even stealing manhole covers and drainage grates. It’s only a matter of time before our pigs begin disappearing, too.

Here’s my question – if you steal an air conditioner why would you sell it for copper? Copper is worth something like $3-5/lb, but a used air conditioner can get you plenty according to Craigslist. It seems easier just to sell the original unit whole.

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