LIBERTY, Mo. -- A family-owned business in Liberty is repeatedly targeted by thieves who were finally caught on camera this week – putting police hot on their trail.
Hale’s Heating and Cooling has been in the metro for more than four decades. Michele Beck and her husband bought the business three years ago, and recently moved it from Excelsior Springs to an industrial park in Liberty.
“The most important thing in this business is caring about the customers,” Beck said, “and making sure that we always put their needs first.”
But not long after they moved into their new location, Beck said they were burglarized.
“We had a robbery earlier this year in February,” she said, “and it kind of took us by surprise. It was after that that we increased our security. We had the cameras and we beefed up the security across the board on all of our vehicles and on the building.”
This week, it was a new surveillance camera on the back of the building that for the first time caught two thieves in the act.
In the middle of the night, the video captured two men pull up in their pick-up truck. They hone in on a pile of expensive equipment that was set out for a contractor to collect in just a few hours.
“They literally pull up,” Beck said, “and they take the things of value and leave everything else.”
The video shows the accused thieves loading up furnaces, AC units and copper coils onto their truck bed – spending nearly seven minutes calmly lifting hundreds of pounds in order to steal a few hundred bucks worth of metals and copper.
“I worry that somebody could be hurt,” Beck said. “This morning they came at 6 a.m. and what if an employee came in early and stumbled upon it? I think when theft is happening, there`s danger.”
It’s danger and theft she said has plagued her business, as well as some surrounding businesses, on and off for a few months. She's had a hunch it's the same crooks, but this was the first time she's caught them on camera.
“It’s upsetting to me to see that people place a value on a small amount of money,” Beck said, “but they can [be worth] thousands of dollars of value to the person who it rightfully belongs to.”
Beck said all of the equipment stolen would be easy to spot during a resale since it’s marked with unique serial numbers. She has since filed a police report and handed her surveillance video over to detectives in hopes of catching the people responsible.
“I do feel like it`s the time of year where you do want to give and be generous,” Beck said, “and if someone were really in need, we would want to help them. We in fact do give to some of the charities. We’re involved in the parish. There’s a lot of things we do in the community to help.”
She continued, “And so when somebody just takes it, it just doesn`t sit well. Just because we give doesn`t mean we wouldn`t mind when you take.”
Liberty police are actively investigating, but they still need the community`s help. If you know anything or you recognize the car or the men in that surveillance video, Beck is asking you call Crime Stoppers at (816) 474-TIPS.