Most folks use air conditioners to beat the sizzling summer heat.
But some thieves use them as a means to cold, hard cash.
A new state law is designed to stop them in their tracks.
Beginning Wednesday, anyone who buys or sells copper -- abundant in the inner workings of air conditioners -- or other high-value scrap metals such as aluminum must get a permit from the local sheriff's office. The law, passed last legislative session, is designed to thwart metal thieves, who do things like gut air conditioners and sell the metal to recyclers or salvage yards.
"The law is a great step in the right direction in trying to reduce copper thefts," Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said. "If it works like it's intended to, the salvage companies will turn those who don't have a permit away."
The Sheriff's Office has recorded 45 thefts of non-ferrous metals since January 2009. That count doesn't include thefts of items such as catalytic converters and air-conditioning units, which are most often targeted for the metals inside, according to Sgt. Robin McIntosh, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
Other hot spots for copper thieves are church air-conditioning units since the buildings are often unoccupied for most of the week, Tanner said.
Read the complete story at islandpacket.com