Rising number of burglars using AC window units to force way into Valley homes

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Detectives don't know if one person is responsible for the spike in these crimes or if several thieves are working together, but each report has undeniable similarities. (KFSN)

Thousands of homes and apartments in the Central Valley have window AC units, and many are tough to secure and the number of burglary victims is growing.

Burglars are shoving air conditioners and coolers through windows, then climbing in and ransacking the place.

"Now I have some blocks, wood blocks up here on the back side of it bolted to the frame of the window," Ken Atrat of Fresno said, who was a burglary victim.

Atrat was gone for about 40 minutes last week when his air conditioning unit was pushed through a side window of his home.

"Went through the bedroom, tore everything up in the bedroom, went through all the drawers," he said. "Even went through the cabinets in the kitchen."

Fresno police discussed the trend at their CrimeView meeting earlier this week. Detectives don't know if one person is responsible for the spike in these crimes or if several thieves are working together, but each report has undeniable similarities.

"The subjects were actually pushing the AC units through the inside of the residence and that's how they were getting access to the residence as well," Capt. Phil Cooley with the department said.

Ken knew when he installed his cooling unit that it did make him vulnerable to the potential of becoming a burglary victim.

"When you put them in, you know, it's not that," he said. "It's not like you got a security system in there or anything. Anybody can go through them."

Detectives are asking residents with window units to double check them and make sure they are as secure as possible.

"I would suggest probably professionally installed instead of doing it yourself," Cooley said. "Because there is probably mounting brackets to prevent that from happening."

Many who rely on these cooling systems cannot afford central air conditioners. So, it's an expensive conversion that leaves many lower income families with this less secure option.

Ken has installed a video surveillance system since his break in. He is hoping this also deters any future burglaries.

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fresno police departmentburglaryfresnoFresno
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