KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville police have been searching for the people who stole nine HVAC units from several small businesses in Franklin Square.
Customers at Sami's Cafe sat inside the warm restaurant eating as snow fell outside the window Monday. It sounds nice, but owner Sam Natour told Local 8 News, it could have been quite the opposite.
"I'm just glad it's not hot outside, because I probably would have had to close. People wouldn't like sitting in a hot place," he said.
Police told him, the people responsible wouldn't reap the benefits of stealing the units.
"(They said) the salvage companies have a new policy, that when someone turns in something like that, they have to show information and license number and everything," Natour said. "A lot of them are not going to do that."
Since Tennessee implemented that law, Tennessee Metals insisted they have followed it. Buyer Brandon Watkins said they are required to fingerprint anyone selling scrapped metal, file their ID and even still, there's a five-day waiting period for those selling copper.
"The only person allowed to get paid cash for an aluminum copper radiator is someone that has a scrap metal license," Watkins said.
He added, even if it was legal, from a business perspective, it's just not worth it.
"(With an) aluminum copper radiator, you're a dollar/pound," he gave as an example, "If it's 25 pounds, that's 25 bucks."
And oftentimes, it's not even that, said Natour.
"These units don't really have that much copper in them. It's really not worth it. To me it's not," Natour said. "Maybe to them, it is."
He added, he wished thieves knew that. It could have saved both parties a lot of trouble.
"They'll probably be in the bottom of the lake if they can't sell them to the salvage company," Natour said.
Police have been checking nearby businesses to see if any security cameras caught anything.