Workers at the Hawg ‘n Dawg Express restaurant in Ahwatukee Foothills were trying to remain cool in last week's triple-digit heat after discovering that thieves had destroyed the business's air conditioning unit and absconded with the copper tubing the previous night.
"We got in (Thursday) morning and the air conditioning wasn't working," said Justin Jerdee, the owners' son, who works at the restaurant, situated at the southwest corner of Equestrian Trail and Warner/Elliot Loop. "They completely cut out our coils. We just had it fixed three weeks ago."
On Thursday afternoon, some of the business's employees had taken temporary refuge next door in the T3 Salon, which still had air conditioning.
Lt. Mark Tallman, a Phoenix Police Department spokesman, said the thieves likely stole the copper for resale. Other components of the air conditioning unit also appeared to have been taken for possible resale, he said.
"The money they get from turning in copper is not very lucrative, but the damage they cause can be extensive," Tallman said. "We don't have any witnesses right now, it appears."
Such thefts happen occasionally in Ahwatukee, although not as frequently as other places in the Valley, he said. Theft of copper often happens from sites where homes are under construction, he said.
It's often difficult to link suspected stolen copper to a particular theft site, Tallman said.
"There are no identifying marks on it, so how to you track it back?" he said.
Police encourage victims of such thefts to report them to police. People who have businesses or homes with exposed copper should consider camouflaging it to make it less apparent to potential thieves, Tallman said.
"If you do have copper that's visible, disguise it in some fashion," he added.