Published: May 24, 2011 8:16 PM EDT
Updated: May 24, 2011 8:17 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A string of AC thefts hit small businesses hard over the weekend. At least six shops off of Metro Parkway were burglarized, with thieves tearing apart almost two dozen AC units.

"Monday morning, I walked in about 6 o'clock into the office. I thought it was a little warm and humid. I said, 'What's happened to my air conditioning?"

George Furlan is just one of a handful of small business owners left sweating it out to an unsettling sight Monday morning-- the spots where AC units used to sit-- now empty.

"When you see something like this, you ask yourself, why?" Furlan asked Tuesday.

At least six businesses between Metro Parkway and Plantation Road were hit over the weekend. Thieves tore apart and took off with 18 to 24 units.

"All the coils were taken out of the units. All the compressors were still there. Everything was basically scattered all over the place," James Posey of United Mechanical said Tuesday.

Now, small business owners are left picking up the pieces and facing an unexpected bill adding up to the thousands.

"They made about $85-90 on each one worth of copper. And it's costing me $3,500," Furlan said.

Lee County Sheriff's Office is investigating the string of thefts and whether or not they're related. In the meantime, businesses are riding out the wreck on their finances.

"We're struggling to survive. We're struggling against the economy. Then to have such a devastating blow, such a large bill as an unexpected surprise, it hurts," Carla Moore of EU Marble & Granite said Tuesday.

Lee County deputies recommend placing a protective cage around outside AC units to prevent theft. The weekend burglaries are still under investigation.