Rental Problems! Stolen AC Unit and Building an AC Cage

I have mentioned in a previous post that real estate is not passive.  Here is another example.

Someone stole the HVAC unit! 

Being a new rental owner, I was naive and didn’t realize AC theft was a common occurrence.  I realized  quickly, the hard way, after this incident.  A police report was filed, but they said there was little to no chance for it to be recovered.

When replacing the unit I didn’t want to just  replace the unit, as I didn’t want someone to steal the unit again.  I did some research into AC cages and decided to make my own for the sake of time to be sure it would be in place prior to the install of the replacement unit.

I made a trip to Home Depot and then to Tractor Supply to get inspiration.  After some quick measurements and calculations, I realized I could use 3 gates, a fence post, 2 pipes, chains, and a cattle feedlot panel to make an AC cage.

Gate and Cattle Feedlot Panel

Here are a few pictures showing the process of making and installing the cage:

First Step:  Pour concrete and set poles

2nd Step:  Cut the Cattle Feedlot Panel and attach to the gates

 Lastly,  Assemble the gates to the posts, and attach the chain

This set-up may not be as robust as a pre-built cage, but hopefully it will deter someone from stealing the unit again.  The purpose of the cage is to increase the level of difficulty and hopefully not pick my rental again.   At a minimum, if someone did attempt to break the cage, the sounds of the metal banging together would make a lot of noise and hopefully get someone’s attention!

Lesson Learned: 

Protect items of value, or at least make it more difficult for someone to steal.  I don’t want anyone’s AC unit to be stolen…but if someone is going to steal one, I don’t want mine to be the easiest to steal!

Another item, this experience caused me to question how trusting I should be of people.  Was it a random stranger who stole the unit out of opportunity?  Or was it someone I had been in contact with?  Sometimes it is hard to know who to trust.  I don’t like feeling like that…but I will get over it.


Have you had an AC unit stolen from your rental?  What did you do to ensure it didn’t happen again?  Have you had a similar experience where you question if you can trust people?

4 Replies to “Rental Problems! Stolen AC Unit and Building an AC Cage”

  1. Geez. I didn’t know that was something to look out for. It’s not like the AC unit is very light…getting it out quickly seems like it would take some amount of planning. This is yet another thing to consider for real estate investing. (It seems like the list never ends!)

    1. Every “investment” has pros and cons. Just be sure you know what you are getting into. I have sometimes wondered if I would be better off avoiding real estate and simply invest in a REIT. I’ve made the decision to jump into real estate, so I own it (no pun intended). Don’t be afraid to invest, while gains are fun, not all dealings to get there are.

  2. Was this on that tax sale property you got? That cage is serious. I think it’s enough of a deterrent that people will leave it alone now.

    Man, now I’m curious what area of town! Haha. Maybe some day you and I can link up for coffee. Sounds like you have some interesting stories to tell.

    1. It was. It has made me rethink about how much real estate I want to invest in. Index funds don’t require AC cages!

      Trading stories is always fun, I’m sure you have some of your own to tell!

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