It would take an Army tank maybe to steal an air conditioning unit or your water tank outside your house. That's what Chuck Barlow is likely to tell you when you look at the heavy gauge steel cages he builds to keep the bad guys from stealing your air conditioning equipment, especially for the value of copper and other items in the unit.
Theft of air conditioning systems in Lehigh and throughout the county has been a menace and keeping local Sheriff's investigators busy making arrests of those who will steal the units.
"I was installing a steel cage for a client and a few houses down, I watched as a guy pulled the air conditioning right off the concrete and make off with it. I called the Sheriff's Office and they got him," said Barlow.
Barlow with cage: Chuck Barlow has invented a heavy steal cage that he says will keep thieves from stealing your air conditioning equipment. Here he stands in front of a cage he has just installed. Photo by Mel Toadvine
Compressors and their contents are safe, says Barlow who has a patent of the cages he builds especially to fit around each unit. He bolts it into the cement and it would take hours to get his cage loose, he says.
"Go ahead and try to bend that steel," he boasted.
Barlow said he saw a need for such a service back with the economy went sour and homes were left vacated or unbuilt or else they were being foreclosed upon.
"That's when the thieves began, stealing the equipment outside and even inside the home. I am also planning now to soon to be able to secure your inside appliances preventing thieves from taking your refrigerator, your dryer and washer, etc.," he said.
That would be good news for people who vacate their homes to go up north this time of the year. He also has a service where he visits empty homes for his clients to make sure things are okay.
He builds all his co-called cages, paints them so they are attractive and says business is good right now.
He calls his business "A/C Stolen? Get the Cage" and it's painted across his panel truck and can't be missed if you see it on the street or at a home where he is doing his work.
"I use 10 to 12 steel gauge steel and bolt 'em down. You can't cut them with the big bolt cutters. It just won't work," he said.
He was heading to Miami last week to install a cage around a client's air conditioning unit and says he gets calls from all over.
He constructs his cages to specification and delivers them to the site and installs them and so far, he does it all by himself, but admits if business continues, he may be forced to hire a helper.
Barlow says he puts locks on the cages so they can unlocked for service work. But those locks can't be opened any other way except by the right key," he said.
You can locate him by calling 239-823-3066 or by going online at www.ACstolen.com. He says he is building another website and it should be up in a week. It's at: houseandhomewach.com.