Since July, there have been more than half a dozen thefts of AC units in the city, as well as one unsuccessful attempt.
The most recent incident was last week.
“I’m talking about the whole big thing that is on the side of the house, not just the window unit” Vermilion police Sgt. Stephen Davis said. “People chop them up and take them to the scrapyard and sell them”
Officer Corey Spoores was patrolling at 3 a.m. Dec. 16 on Edgewater Drive when he came across two vacant homes where AC units were stolen. He followed tracks in the snow and took photos of the footprints, then came across a suspicious looking man in the neighborhood.
The suspect, Tyler Weaver, 29, took off running, police said.
“The officer knocked on the door and said he followed the footprints leading to the home and Weaver agreed to let him inside,” Davis said. “Weaver produced a bunch of shoes to match the tracks, but none of them were the ones they were looking for”
What Weaver didn’t bring out: the wet boots that were drying in his living room. Sure enough, the boot treads matched footprint patterns the officer found in the snow, police said.
Officers obtained a search warrant, and inside the home they found a broken piece of an air conditioning unit that matched the wiring at the Edgewater Drive home.
“It was like solving a puzzle. It was a perfect fit,” Davis said. “We charged him for the theft of that air condition unit”
Weaver was charged with felony theft, criminal damaging and criminal trespass.
Davis said officers haven’t recovered any of the stolen air conditioning units.
“We even went to the scrapyards, but you can’t just say, ‘Someone scrapped an AC unit,’” he said. “Plus, we believe it was under a different person’s name.
“We’re trying to compare our thefts, but with so many parts and pieces, it’s hard to say where they all came from” he said.
Tracie Ramos, manager of Lorain County Recycling, said the scrapyard gives 11.5 cents per pound for recycling.
“It varies, but normally we give $10 or $15 (for a window air conditioning unit)” Ramos said.
Hartung said patrols are being increased for the holiday season. Homeowners who are headed off on vacations can ask police to keep an eye on their homes. Forms are available at the police department.
“Residents should remain vigilant, and if they see suspicious people in their neighborhoods or anything out of the ordinary, give us a call” Hartung said. “Better safe than sorry”