Archive for Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Thief steals health clinic’s air conditioner

Insurance will cover most of replacement cost

August 2, 2006


So you think you have air-conditioner problems. At least you're not Nikki King.

King, executive director of Health Care Access, came to work at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday to open the nonprofit health care clinic. By about 9 a.m., staff and clients started to complain that the air conditioner at the clinic, 1920 Moodie Road, was blowing warm air.

First, King checked the electrical box to make sure there wasn't a blown breaker. No, that wasn't the problem. Then she turned the unit off to give it a chance to catch up. That was no help. Finally, she walked out behind the building to make sure the unit itself looked OK.

It didn't. In fact, it was nowhere to be seen.

"There were just some wires and a piece of pipe hanging from the building where the air conditioner used to be," King said. "It was pretty obvious that someone with an oil-dripping pickup truck backed up and stole it in the middle of the night."

King spent the rest of the day sweating how much it was going to cost to replace the unit. She did some regular sweating, too. By late afternoon, temperatures in the clinic had reached 92 degrees.

"We're just truly flabbergasted that someone would steal our air conditioner," King said.

King, though, did receive preliminary word from the clinic's insurance company that Health Care Access would be responsible for only the $500 deductible, not the total replacement cost.

That will create a bit of a financial pinch. But not nearly as much as a several-thousand-dollar bill to replace the entire unit, especially after the clinic recently had its state funding cut by $38,000.

"We don't have a stolen-air-conditioner reserve fund or anything like that," King said.

A police department spokeswoman said she was not aware of any other air-conditioner thefts. But members of the city's heating and air-conditioner industry said such thefts were not unprecedented in the Kansas City area.

Rhonda Van Anne, with Lawrence's Advantage Heating and Air Conditioning, said air-conditioner units sometimes were stolen for the copper inside them. Copper is selling at near-record-high prices.

"Copper is a very big thing right now," Van Anne said. "We have people coming in almost every day asking us for the old units that we take out."

Van Anne also said some people cut the copper lines of air-conditioning units to get high off the refrigerant. And then, she said, there are some people who think they can figure out how to take the unit back to their own hot home.

Hooking up a stolen unit, though, would be difficult for most people, Van Anne said.

"Once they are hooked up, they would be a lot of work to cut out of there," Van Anne said. "I'm surprised that they didn't get electrocuted. There's a lot of electricity going to one of those units."


black_watch 11 years, 9 months ago

Thieving idiots. While I am no fan of HCA, as they don't provide anything that isn't provided elsewhere (and they don't provide it without a fee, either), this is still ridiculous.

If it -was- sold for scrap copper, why isn't anybody taking a look at the scrap dealers? It seems like there are some really shady folks who will pay out for any random wad of copper, regardless of who brings it in and in what condition it's in. I'm not suggesting that they question every piece of copper, but are eyebrows -ever- raised to a sale? Hm. Things like this happen every single time copper scrap hits a peak.

Wonder what's driving up the price of used copper, anyways?

trinity 11 years, 9 months ago

i hope the thievin' bastages DID get electrocuted, or at least a good strong jolt. re-freakin'-diculous.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 9 months ago

Dear Annie's Mailbox:

How can I be sure I'm going to burn in hell?

  • Cruisin-for-a-frying-in-Kansas


Steal an AC unit from a non-profit and you will seal the deal.

Janet Lowther 11 years, 9 months ago

Confrontation, while copper is high, getting it out of an AC unit is a royal pain in the you-know-what: Most of it is sealed up inside the compressor housing which is usually thick steel. The junk dealers I've dealt with only pay iron prices for motors and so forth if you don't separate the copper for them.

Of course, aluminum is high too. . .

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 9 months ago

black_watch wondered "If it -was- sold for scrap copper, why isn't anybody taking a look at the scrap dealers?"

I'm wondering why black_watch thinks no one is?

mztrendy 11 years, 9 months ago

Hopefully all the nice people reading this will maybe start a donation of some sort like people did with that family a couple of weeks ago who didn't have an air conditioner either. HCA is a very good program for our community and its sad to see that they have to use their money for a new AC unit instead of other more important things for their patients.

Rationalanimal 11 years, 9 months ago

The thief was probably a client in destitute circumstances. Ironic that on one side of the line we tell him/her free is ok, on the other we tell him/her free is a pass straight to jail. If he/she really needed it that bad, God bless them.

Wilbur_Nether 11 years, 9 months ago

Rationalanimal rationalized that "on one side of the line we tell him/her free is ok, on the other we tell him/her free is a pass straight to jail." Which is patently untrue. Rationalanimal has not taken into consideration that the difference between the two is the concept of the owner/provider of the item/service determines who has opportunity to access the item/service. The "irony" derives from a false premise.

Good attempt at spin, though.

egypt 11 years, 9 months ago

Im not sure where the health clinic is but wouldnt one notice/ hear an air conditioner being stolen?


bearded_gnome 11 years, 9 months ago

that city w/the power outage caused by copper theft=topeka. so, topeka thief comes to lawrence? who knew?

Confrontation 11 years, 9 months ago

I sure hope the LJWorld isn't being read by criminals today. If they're reading it, then we can all expect to lose our AC's for the copper. Of course, most of them could already know about this.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 9 months ago

I've heard about numerous thefts of AC units in KC this summer. They steal them for the copper. This isn't anything new, and the thieves already know about it.

I highly doubt that the thieves had any intention of using the unit for themselves. They just wanted the parts.

There was a nursing home in KC recently that had the same thing happen to them.

bizarre 11 years, 9 months ago

Healthcare access Is:

The golden chain that binds our distressed Society together,

They are the poetry in a world, where those bearing the heaviest burdens only hear cruel words,

They are the fountain of hope, when the uninsured have no where else to turn,

They are the music that fills the ears, of a desperate mother needing to ease the pain of her child.

Inside you will find a warm greeting, a hand held out in a time of need, a life saving bit of medicine, a needed referal.

I knew a Lawrence woman named Dusty that died a few years ago from a tooth ache. She was turned away by a local dentist because she had no insurance. her tooth became absessed and she died. There is no way to know how many Dusty's have been saved because Healthcare Access was there to help! They should not be suffering from cutbacks! They should be supported for their labors!

Sometimes we don't appreciate what we have until its gone!

black_watch 11 years, 9 months ago

"golden chain"? "warm greeting, a hand held out in a time of need"? I know plenty of low or no income folks with no insurance who have been turned away from HCA because they couldn't pay the mandatory introductory $80 fee. Not only have I anecdotal stories from friends and associates, but I've experienced it myself when calling for an injured person who needed non-urgent treatment but didn't want to rack up hundreds or thousands of dollars at a hospital (that cannot deny stabilizing health care to anyone, whatsoever, I might add - this is why ER's are swamped with colds and flus of the uninsured).

black_watch 11 years, 9 months ago


If there's any sort of ongoing investigation on scrap dealers, then why are thefts like this still happening? And where do we go to find information on such an investigation if it is occuring?

(This is of course still operating under the assumption that it was, in fact, stolen for copper. that still seems to be the most likely motive.)

I also find myself torn ideologically between the urge to create an environment where jerks who steal air conditioners for copper will no longer be able to make a buck; and an environment where every single piece of scrap sold is under scrutiny, and every person who sells (or buys) some used material becomes a criminal.

Where do we draw the line?

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