Man arrested in theft of air conditioner cores

A 24-year old St. Johns County man was arrested on one count each of grand theft and criminal mischief last week, according to a report from SJSO Media Relations Officer Kevin Kelshaw received by the St. Johns County local news desk today.

The suspect, identified as Hugh James Ryan, 24, 314 Arpieka Ave., was arrested by Property Crimes Unit Detectives on February 3rd and was released the next day after posting $5,000 bond.

The investigation began on February 1st when it was discovered that the cores of three air conditioner units were stolen from three suites in the 5400 block of A1A South.

Surveillance cameras showed that the suspect drove to the business shortly before 2:00 a.m. and then removed the cores from three, 3-ton air conditioner units and fled in an unknown direction. The three units were valued at $3,000.

Two witnesses positively identified Ryan from the surveillance photos and additional evidence was obtained. Ryan was questioned and arrested.

Ryan is also a suspect in two additional thefts of air conditioner units and charges are pending further investigation.

Jerod Meeks, owner of Arnett Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc., said that one of his service technicians was called to the scene of one of the stolen air conditioner cores when the owner of the residence returned home and found that his thermostat was not working.

Meeks said when the technician went outside to inspect the unit, it appeared that a bomb had gone off inside because all four side panels of the compressor had been dropped to the ground.

Meeks told Historic City News that it could have been dangerous for the thief — since the compressor is supplied with high voltage. In this case, the thief knew what he was doing because the power interrupt had been pulled. When asked why someone would take such a risk to steal an air conditioner core, Meeks said, “I suppose this has been done to recover the small amount of copper inside the unit.”

Photo credit: © 2010 Historic City News contributed photograph

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