Strike two: AC thieves ‘surgically’ hit Blue Island school
BY CASEY TONER firstname.lastname@example.org July 12, 2012 3:44PM
A thief or thieves dismantled an air conditioning unit on the roof of Horace Mann School in Blue Island. | Supplied photo
Updated: July 12, 2012 8:12PM
The rooftop air conditioning unit thieves have struck again, pillaging the five massive units that kept Blue Island’s Horace Mann School cool.
The theft — likely for coils that can be sold as scrap — occurred less than a week after thieves stole the air conditioning unit from the Robbins public library about a mile away.
Cook County School District 130 business manager Allan McDonald said Thursday the units on the Mann School roof were ripped apart sometime between 3:30 p.m. Tuesday and 6:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Janitors noticed the destruction when it started getting warm inside the building at 2975 W. Broadway St.
McDonald estimates it would cost $45,000 to $50,000, plus installation, to replace the units, which he said are each about the size of a small car.
He estimated the coils from one air conditioner could fetch about $1,000 from a scrap metal dealer.
While insurance should cover most of the replacement costs, McDonald expects the district will have to pay a deductible.
“For a real small amount of money that the offenders are getting out of it, it’s definitely impacting our children,” he said.
McDonald said a police report was filed. Blue Island police did not immediately return a message Thursday afternoon.
The damaged air conditioners are about four years old, and it will take four to six weeks to replace them, McDonald said. Fortunately, the preschool is out for the summer, so district officials don’t have to worry about the school’s 400 children overheating.
McDonald said that to get their loot, thieves had to turn off the power to the 440-volt units, remove the 4-foot-by-6-foot covers, dismantle the insides and remove 150-pound copper refrigeration coils.
“This isn’t someone taking a hammer to it,” McDonald said. “They surgically dismantled them and took them apart.”
McDonald guessed that took four to five hours, and he said he had no idea how thieves hauled the heavy coils down a ladder.
He said he plans to buy a security alarm to prevent future rooftop crimes.
“Normally you wouldn’t worry about people stealing something on the roof that’s 1,000 pounds,” McDonald said. “Apparently, that’s the case.”
Meanwhile, at the William Leonard Public Library in Robbins, administrator Priscilla Coatney said she had gotten offers to help since the story of the library’s plight went public, including in Thursday’s SouthtownStar.
She said anyone who wants to help can send a check to the library, 13820 Central Park Ave.,
or just drop by with donations.
“The public is starting to respond, and that’s a wonderful thing,” Coatney said.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media