NEW PORT RICHEY — Two brothers are accused of stealing at least 60 air conditioners from New Port Richey and the unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding it.
Thomas Philpot, 20, was arrested Tuesday. John Philpot, 26, has been in the Pasco jail since Nov. 10, when he was accused of stealing two Cuisinart blenders and pawning them. Detectives from the Pasco County Sheriff's Office and the New Port Richey Police Department are working together on the air conditioner thefts.
So far, the brothers both face 14 counts of grand theft. John Philpot is also charged with retail theft, dealing in stolen property and violating his probation.
Sgt. Sharon Foshey of the Pasco Sheriff's Office said the brothers targeted vacant homes but also hit some businesses and occupied homes. She said they stole the units during the day and brought them back to their house and took them apart. Foshey said they wanted the copper inside the units because it's worth more than other metals at scrap yards.
She said it usually costs homeowners $2,000 to replace their stolen units. For businesses, the cost can be $25,000.
What did the brothers get when they scrapped each unit?
"Maybe $50," Foshey said. For business units, which are larger, possibly $100.
The brothers are also accused of stealing weights and a weight-lifting bench. They were looking for "anything they could scrap," Foshey said. She said these types of crimes have increased along with the rise in prescription pill addiction. Criminals "are trying to sell and get money for whatever they can to purchase pills," Foshey said.
The brothers lived together at 5825 Louisiana Ave. in New Port Richey. John Philpot is being held without bail at the Pasco jail. Thomas Philpot is in custody in lieu of $28,000 bail.
Foshey said many witnesses don't call law enforcement when they see these types of crimes happen because they think the perpetrator is an air-conditioning repair person or another visitor with a legitimate purpose.
She urges people to call the Sheriff's Office at (727) 844-7711 if they see anything unusual.
"Give us a call," she said. "We will come and check it out."
Erin Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6229.