I think in this case, as in many others, it is cost of the damage done that really matters. OK, so the copper was only worth $4,800.00 That's a far cry from the quarter-million+ in damages caused as a result.
What is really starting to get bad is the theft of gasoline around here. No more simple siphoning; they are poking holes in peoples' gas tanks and draining them from underneath. One recent theft involved a store employee bypassing the authorization wiring in a pump and inviting his friends/families over for a free fillup. They caught him, but only after he got away with $50K in gasoline. Then, we have had at least three instances of entire tank trucks full of fuel being stolen around here.
It almost makes those siphoning thefts back in the 1970's look humorous, almost silly. Nothing is safe from theft anymore, absolutely nothing.
FWIW, by cutting into active AC lines, it's almost certain that the thieves can be prosecuted for releasing Freon into the air ... and the EPA has some pretty hefty penalties for that. Plus, our thieves may have inadvertently helped hasten the replacement of obsolete gear with the latest whiz-bang stuff.
Though that detail is of little comfort to the victims. Can anyone say "inside job?"
That area is frequented by mindless thugs from the eastern suburbs of DC or from Baltimore. I seriously doubt that it was an inside job. These people rob and shoot each other daily. I'm pretty sure that they were just driving down the road and came up with an idea to pick up some drug money and a couple of 40's while they were at it. I seriously doubt that this project was carefully planned other than using a tubing cutter to keep their activity quiet.
We recently had one of our residents attempt to steal the AC Lineset from her apartment. Fortunately they did not get much of it and it was repairable. The best part was I charged her $500 for the repair on her move out damages and she wanted to argue. Not that they had done the damage, but the $$ figure. I told her that if she felt that it was too high, I could call in the police and have her arrested for theft instead. She shut up and paid the bill.
"We can do it, you can't help" said my son to the HD guy