Keeping Your Building’s HVAC System Secure from Thieves
Even if your commercial building doesn’t usually have a lot of cash or valuable merchandise on hand, most buildings contain at least one potential target for theft: the HVAC system. HVAC units contain valuable metals, particularly copper, that can be stolen and sold for quick money at scrap yards. Fortunately, there are many ways you can protect your HVAC system and keep it secure from thieves and vandals.
- Recognize vulnerabilities — The location of your HVAC system can make it an easier target for potential thieves. Your heating and cooling equipment will be less secure if it is installed in an out-of-the-way location where visibility is limited and thieves are less likely to be seen. This includes equipment installed on roofs and in low-traffic areas. Moving the system to an area that has more visibility could be the first step toward making it more secure.
- Boost security — Some simple site security measures can help prevent HVAC system theft by simply increasing oversight of potentially vulnerable systems. Make sure your staff and security personnel know to keep an eye out for suspicious vehicles or individuals around your building. If you have security patrols, increase their frequency in areas where HVAC equipment is installed. Hire local security companies or contact law enforcement to request additional patrols around your building.
- Eliminate accessibility — Thieves like to work quickly, getting in and out in the least amount of time. If you make it more difficult to reach your HVAC equipment, you will reduce the possibility of theft and increase overall security. Remove ladders that can provide easier access to rooftop HVAC units. Build a strong metal cage around the HVAC unit to prevent unauthorized persons from getting access to the equipment. Make sure the cage is locked and that it is periodically inspected for damage. If a cage isn’t practical, build a tall fence around the HVAC system, which could be enough to discourage thieves looking for a quick and easy target.
- Put in an alarm — Install a specialized alarm system designed for HVAC systems. These alarms can sound if the equipment is damaged or tampered with. For example, HVAC-specific alarm systems can detect decreases in refrigerant line pressure that indicates the line has been cut or damaged. You can also get alarms that will sound if any attempt is made to move the equipment.
- Increase lighting — Thieves like working in areas where they are less likely to be seen. Add more lights in areas where HVAC equipment is stored. Put in motion sensors that activate bright lights whenever anyone is detected moving in their vicinity. If your security needs require it, integrate the motion sensors into your alarm systems. Install a video surveillance system to help you monitor HVAC equipment and the surrounding areas. For locations with limited budgets, consider installing realistic-looking fake cameras that are indistinguishable from real ones. A nervous thief is unlikely to take the time to determine if the cameras are real or not. Make sure cameras, lights, and other security devices are installed high enough off the ground where they can’t be broken, damaged, or incapacitated.
- Make thieves’ work harder — The more you can do to frustrate a thief, the less likely it is that your HVAC system will get hit. Attach the HVAC unit to a concrete base, making it extremely difficult to lift or move the equipment. Paint copper lines a bright and distinctive color to make it more difficult for thieves to sell the material. If local scrap yards and recyclers know you paint your copper, they’ll be able to recognize stolen material if it comes through their door.
Our goal is to help educate our customers about Plumbing, HVACR, Fire Protection, and Alarm Systems in Mechanical, Commercial, and Residential settings. For more information on how to keep your building’s HVAC system secure and protected from theft, and to view projects we’ve worked on, visit our website!