A Culpeper man and Boston woman were charged this week with grand larceny in one of what the Rappahannock County Sheriff’s Office says has been a recent string of thefts of equipment, tools and other items over the last month — including, in one case, two outdoor heat pumps attached to an empty home.
“I have to say, I have seen a lot of things stolen over the years, but this is the first time I can remember that an entire HVAC system was taken,” said Sheriff Connie C. Smith, referring to the theft reported over the weekend from a vacant, for-sale home on Fodderstack Road owned by innkeeper Phil Irwin, whose farm is adjacent to the property.
In that case, she said, Irwin’s son discovered the two heat pumps (which the elder Irwin said were only about six or seven years old) absent from their concrete pads while checking on the house on Sunday (Feb. 2). The heavy, compressor-driven units’ electrical and other connections had been severed from the house and the units removed, Smith said.
There have been several reported thefts around the county since the start of the year, Smith said, most of which have been equipment, or in some cases increasingly valuable scrap metal, taken from unoccupied or unused buildings.
The most recent theft-related arrests were made last Thursday (Jan. 30) by Deputy Chris Ubben, who charged Brandy Jean Walters, 32, of Boston, and Stephen Jameson, 62, of Culpeper, with grand larceny. The two are accused of stealing a snowblower, two chainsaws and two firearms, collectively worth $1,600, from a Grindstone Road residence near Boston sometime between Jan. 22 and Jan. 25.
Smith said a third man, Edward Green of Culpeper, is also wanted for questioning in the investigation.
Smith said another reported theft, of a 1956 tractor and some wood flooring from an unused farm building off U.S. 522 in Sperryville, is also actively under investigation, and several smaller thefts have been reported around the county since Jan. 1.
“People need to check their homes, especially weekend places and buildings that are not actively in use, check the doors, the windows, locks — walk around the place,” Smith said.
RCSO investigator Shawn Walters suggested that people who own valuable — but portable — tools, such as chainsaws, air compressors and small tractors make a point of recording the serial numbers of each piece of equipment. Taking a camera-phone picture of the serial number is one easy way to do this, Smith said.
“It greatly improves our ability to recover stolen items if we have serial numbers,” Walters said.