MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - For three months, air conditioning units all over Madison County were coming up missing.
"We had kind of an air conditioning ring going on there," said Deputy Willard Reardon, of the Madison County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators say in that time there were three suspects that they believe stole roughly 25 A/C units mainly from vacant homes, businesses, and several churches.
"Air conditioning units, as we all know, is a popular item with people stealing," started Deputy Reardon, "they'll come in and take an air conditioning unit that costs three-or-four-thousand, five thousand dollars, get the copper out of it for about a hundred bucks, and go sell the scrap."
Deputies say Devon Pierce, James Richardson, and Daniel Richardson were running the theft ring and hit at least four churches among the many other places, and the list of victims keeps getting longer Deputy Reardon said.
"We've probably solved 25 or 30 cases, but the biggest thing is putting that puzzle together to find out the vacant houses, who owns them, and who doesn't own them, so we can go ahead and charge these people."
At several of the churches, the units have already been replaced and are behind bars to prevent another theft, and since the trio was charged deputies say things have cooled on the number of thefts.
"Since then we've noticed we that we've not had any reports of air conditioners stolen," noted the deputy, who credits a tipster for helping investigators find the suspects.
"Fortunate for us, we had some person that knew one of these guys and said we think he's going out of the county selling the copper and he's getting it from somewhere," said Deputy Reardon, "By that tip we ended up cracking the case."
The three suspects are facing multiple felony counts of Theft by Unlawful Taking, and the number of charges could continue to stack up as victims come forward.