In the middle of the year's hottest season, some thieves are hauling away the coolest home essentials.
Air conditioning units, Rock Hill police say, have begun disappearing from area homes.
A dozen systems have been stolen this year. Most of those crimes occurred in recent months at homes that are under construction or were recently built, police say.
Metal thefts have been on the rise for several years, police say, following a jump in metal prices driven by overseas demand.
The York County Sheriff's Office has been following the surge in metal thefts for a few years, but hasn't noticed any pickup recently, Capt. Jerry Hoffman said. Only three more air conditioners were reported stolen this year than through the same time last year.
Continued increases in metal thefts have prompted Rock Hill police to now peruse reports and track what items are being taken.
"We're seeing some definite trends and starting to monitor it more closely," Lt. Jerry Waldrop said.
One of those trends is stealing A/C units.
Unlike past years, when police might see a window unit ripped from the side of an older house, officers now are responding to homes where new systems have been carefully removed.
Waldrop said police believe the thieves are selling the units to scrap dealers.
But some of the victims, most of them homebuilders, have a different theory about why the systems are being stolen.
Clay Covington, superintendent with Young Building Consulting, doesn't think the people who stole two units from his company were selling their loot to scrap dealers.
In one case, he said, the thieves meticulously dissected the equipment.
If thieves wanted to scrap the units, he said, "they would've just cut the wires, broke the pipe loose, threw it on the back of the truck and got out of there. They wouldn't have cared about what damage they did. But they actually unscrewed every screw, took the panel off, took the wires loose."
The culprits could be people who work in the industry and are looking to resell the units, Covington speculates. It would take at least two people to load a system on a truck.
Some scrap dealers don't have much use for air conditioners.
Floyd Carter, owner of Floyd's Metal Recycling in Rock Hill, said a unit's radiator and copper tubing are the only things that interest him. And any copper sales require a photo ID.
"Anything suspicious, we don't buy it," he said. "I hope they catch them, It gives a bad look ... towards the scrap operators."
The thefts also frustrate homebuilders, Covington said, and not just because they've lost a $4,000 piece of equipment.
After one of the recent thefts, the temperature inside one house shot beyond 90 degrees. Workers were trying to install a wooden floor and not drip sweat on it.
"It's just a big hassle," Covington said.
Robby Belk, board chairman of the Home Builders Association of York County, also suspects the thefts have been carried out by someone who knows the heating and air business.
"It's just not an average, everyday crook," he said.
But when prices rise, he said, these kinds of crimes pick up.
"If the crooks know that it's valuable and they figured out a way that they can cash in on it," he said, "then you better watch out."