Thieves target AC units at Cherokee County school

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Updated: 10/09/2013 5:46 am Published: 10/08/2013 10:52 pm

The superintendent of a Cherokee County school is hoping to identify thieves who cost his district thousands of dollars in air conditioning units.

There are cameras set up all over the Shady Grove campus, but investigators say the thieves avoided having their faces shown on camera by spray painting one camera lens and breaking another camera.

The Cherokee County Sheriff's Office said the administration found out when some of the classes wouldn't cool down during the last week in September.

They found nearly three AC units stolen and only a vague picture of a person involved.

"We have one picture of the guy going towards the camera but he's wearing a mask and a hood," said Shady Grove Schools Superintendent Fred Ferguson.

The camera captured it seconds before it was destroyed.

He told FOX23's Dontaye Carter he replaced the AC units. It cost the district $5,000, which had to come from its budget.

"We could have another Smart Board for a teacher, students and more computers," said Ferguson. "It's just something that has to come out of your budget when something like this happens."

"Due to the size of the air conditioning units, we believe there was more than one suspect, maybe more than two," said Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault.

He said two AC units from the Clear Creek Baptist Church were also stolen. He says the price of metal is up and that's usually when this type of crime spikes too.

"Whoever did this used some type of a scissor-like tool, like a pair of diagonal cutters, because the copper lines weren't cut like a plumber would cut them," Chennault told FOX23.

He says it shows the thieves didn't know what they were doing.

"That ought to be something unique for the recycling places if they see that," he said.

Chennault said the ones hurt the most are the children at this school.

"The money that's going to be used to replace these units is the money that could've been going to these students’ education," said Chennault.

"It's more frustrating when you think they're only going to get $200 or $300 when they salvage them out," said Ferguson.

The school district replaced the damaged cameras that were broken during the crime.

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