Local businesses are taking extra precaution following a string of copper thefts in the Four State area.
Three suspects were arrested Wednesday and are accused of stealing more than a dozen air conditioning units in Joplin and Carl Junction this week.
According to the Joplin Police Department there have been more than 20 copper thefts in the area in the last several months and while this crime is happening more often they say there are ways to protect your property.
A security cage was installed Friday around the air conditioning unit at DOC Lubricant in Dueneweg. This warehouse along with a neighboring warehouse were both hit by copper thieves on Tuesday.
The security cage is an enclosed fence and is bolted down to cement.
The manager of D.O.C. Lubricant Specialist, Greg Steele, set out to put a stop to it with the installation of a security cage.
"It's a bad deal, I think people trying to make a quick buck on somebody else's expense," says Steele. "Hopefully by us putting the cage up, they'll have to go to an easier target."
Bolted to cement flooring and padlocked, Rouse Heating and Air installers say breaking into these cages would be very difficult.
"They're designed to keep theft and vandalism from our air conditioners," says Tim Bickett of Rouse Heating and Air. "I would probably require 20 or 30 minutes more time to get into one. They could be broken into but probably not very likely."
These security cages cost $500 dollars each, small change compared to replacing a $1,600 A/C/ unit over and over again.
"It's a no brainer," Steele says.
These theft deterrants have grown in popularity due to the increasing crime and while law enforcement continues to tackle the problem Steele is confident this new investment will keep burglars away.
But the security cage is just one step people can take to fight the problem.
"Mark your units in a specific way, whether it be a specific color of paint, you know, inside the unit or where your unit's are in your house or whatever," says Lt. Darren Gallup of the Joplin Police Department. "Make it difficult (to steal) - have some outdoor lighting, some trees and shrubs around the unit so it's not easily accessible."
Joplin police also wants to remind that these A/C thefts are a very serious crime, considered a Class C Felony and is punishable up to seven years in prison plus fines.