Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 19, 2011

Air-conditioning theft closes library

VALDOSTA — A damaged air-conditioner will close the South Georgia Regional Library System’s Mae Wisenbaker McMullen Memorial Southside Library for the next two weeks.

Copper was stolen from the unit earlier this week.

Branch Manager Beverly Sanders did not know, until late one afternoon when the building grew warmer, that the crime had occurred.

“We have it set on a timer. When it didn’t kick on like it usually does, I felt as if I were about to pass out. I never thought to look outside,” she said.

Sanders called the library’s building facilitator who discovered the unit had been damaged.

The incident took place before 9 a.m., Aug. 17, according to police reports.

“It looks as though someone snatched out the copper inside the unit. In situations like this, people steal the copper out of units to recycle or sell for scrap metal,” said Lt. Aaron Kirk of the Valdosta Police Department.

The library does not have surveillance cameras in the area of the unit so there is no way to know who is responsible for the vandalism.

Sanders said that to replace the entire unit would cost an estimated $10,000 to $15,000.

“The A/C repairman came out to place a temporary service. The unit has been at the library since its opening in ’92 and the parts it would need to work are no longer sold,” she said.

Sanders is saddened by the event because the library serves 150 to 200 people per day.

“It is really an inconvenience for people and puts them at a disservice. Mostly, it will inconvenience my patrons. I hope it was worth it for the person who did it,” she said.

Sanders said that the library staff is planning on their next move as far as working schedules are concerned.

“Some will go to the other library to work. One will go ahead and take a vacation. We have options luckily, so it will not affect our work,” she said.

Sanders added that the library will remain closed for two weeks and she regrets that the incident caused an inconvenience to so many.

“It puts us in a bad place due to recent budget cuts. I have never seen anything like this. I never thought the library would be faced with this,” she said.

The Valdosta Police Department has worked dozens of air-conditioning thefts and damaged units this summer. In June, the VPD offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to arrests and convictions in the A/C cases.

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