A slew of damaged commercial and residential air-conditioner units around Madison Township has, for now, come to an end with one person confessing to a handful of the crimes and now heading to prison.
While the dismantling of central air-conditioners outside of homes and businesses to salvage the copper and aluminum from within is not unheard of, in the last few months Madison Township has seen more than its fair share with approximately 35-40 of them.
Tony L. Shoemaker, 40, of Greenfield, confessed to damaging five of the units when he was confronted with DNA evidence, as well as other evidence, Greenfield Police Chief Tim Hester said.
That DNA evidence was from one theft, and other evidence included tools and tool markings as well as reports from local scrap yards, Hester said.
On Wednesday, Shoemaker pled guilty by a bill of information to five counts of fifth-degree felony theft and was sentenced to 35 months in prison. Additionally, Shoemaker was sentenced on another case for fifth-degree felony forgery to a term of 10 months in prison. The sentences are to run consecutively.
While Hester said he believes Shoemaker was “responsible for more than he admitted to,” and he believes other persons were likely involved, he thinks Shoemaker was the “main culprit.”
And no more air-conditioner damage incidents have occurred since Shoemaker has been in custody, Hester said.
“I’m happy with the sentence he received,” Hester said.
He said tens of thousands of dollars in damage has been done, all for a few hundred dollars’ worth of metal.
The damage goes beyond the physical units, Hester said, in the harm that has been caused to local businesses and residents.
The air-conditioner units are covered by insurance, but the police chief said he knows of one small business in town whose insurance was canceled after filing the claim to replace its damaged unit, not to mention the violation of security, whether a business owner or a homeowner.
While five of the cases are now considered resolved, Hester said the remainder of the thefts are still under investigation.
Anyone with any information, or witnessing anything suspicious, should call the police department.
Angela Shepherd can be reached at 937-402-2572 or on Twitter @ashepherdTG.