Monday, February 19, 2018
Public safety

Pasco man accused of stealing 11 air conditioners, selling copper wire

HUDSON — When the temperature in his restaurant's kitchen climbed to 89 degrees, George Rouhana noticed cool air wasn't coming from the vents.

He figured the air conditioner was broken. So, without checking the unit, he called a repairman.

The repairman went outside to check it and laughed.

"There's no unit here," he told Rouhana.

A pile of parts and scrap metal was all that remained of the air conditioner, which was bigger than a clothes dryer, behind Rouhana's restaurant, Garden of Eden, on U.S. 19. The compressor was gone, and the unit's copper pipes had been cut away.

That was June 10. Rouhana called authorities but he didn't hear about it again until Tuesday, when the Pasco County Sheriff's Office announced deputies had arrested Michael Crosby.

Crosby, 53, is accused of stealing at least 11 air conditioners at businesses along U.S. 19 in Hudson since May 14. He's charged with grand theft for, they say, stealing copper from Rouhana's air conditioner, and seven other counts of grand theft and five counts of dealing in stolen property.

Arrest reports from the Sheriff's Office said Crosby was able to sell the stolen copper at Hudson County Recycling on Hicks Road.

Crosby was being held in the Land O' Lakes jail Tuesday in lieu of $72,000 bail.

It's good news deputies arrested the person they think destroyed his air conditioner, Rouhana said, but it's cold comfort.

He still needs to replace the unit and surround it with a protective cage.

"I have to pay the price now," he said.

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Published: 02/18/18