Published: Jun 10, 2011 6:29 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 09, 2011 10:12 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.-Air conditioning distributor Dustin Lawrence has seen the lengths thieves will go to steal an AC unit.

"If people want it, they're going to get it," Lawrence says.

He and others in the business say none of the measures designed to protect an AC from getting stolen are foolproof.

In fact, he says, some security features, like metal cages, can be extra scrap for the crook.

He recalls one instance where a metal cage not only failed, but became part of the grab.

"You can tell that a truck has literally backed up to the unit, hooked a chain up to the cage, ripped the cage off, took the cage and then took the unit too," he says.

Cage-maker Chuck Barlow owns the company A/C Stolen and says he has replaced cages that did not work.

"They'll take the cage and the AC, and they'll scrap the cage for the steel," Barlow says.

Barlow's cages are made from wide, flat metal bars that cannot be cut with bolt cutters. He says the cages are bolted into a concrete pad so they can't be ripped out.

But even he admits that won't stop a determined thief.

"The only thing that will cut through them is a blowtorch," he says.

 At Gulf Shore Cooling, owner Gary Wright recommends a cage and even surveillance cameras, but he has found installing a unit made with aluminum coils instead of copper can make the theft less appealing.

"The thieves seem to know that the aluminum doesn't have the same value as the copper coils," Wright says.

If all else fails though, worried property owners can take the lead from St. John the Apostle Church on McGregor Boulevard and rely on divine intervention.

The church has put up a sign reading "Thou shall not steal copper from our A-C unit."