In a crime unusual in even a down economy, the Gainesville Police Department has arrested two people it believes are responsible for the theft of several air conditioning units around the city.
Police say Timothy Lee Jackson, 41, of Flowery Branch and 50-year-old Linda Ann Hamby of Murrayville each face four felony counts of theft by taking and could face more charges if police can link the pair to other units reported missing around the city, said Gainesville Police Lt. Carol Martin.
The police department has been investigating several reports of stolen air conditioning units since about mid-July, Martin said.
Normally, thefts related to air conditioning units involve the taking of the copper coils inside them.
However, some 10 units around the city have gone missing over the past month in their entirety - many from foreclosed homes with no occupants, Martin said.
"No one's going to notice when they're gone. It's not like if... I go home and the air doesn't work," Martin said.
"...That makes it harder (to investigate), because you're not actually dealing with a person who's staying here at the house day after day."
Police have pegged Jackson and Hamby to at least four of the missing units in the Lenox Drive area.
They said the pair was first seen by police on Aug. 4 in an area where some units had been reported missing and police had stepped up patrols.
Police initiated a traffic stop on Aug. 4 when the van the couple was in ran a stop sign. The officer involved in the stop noticed cutting tools in the back of the van, Martin said.
Police then inquired about the couple at scrap metal companies in the area and discovered the two had allegedly been selling the parts of the air conditioning units at various scrap yards in Hall and Lumpkin counties, Martin said.
Both were arrested this weekend and taken to the Hall County Jail.
"The sad part is when they take it and sell these things, they would get less than $100," Martin said. "To replace the unit would be somewhere in the thousands."