There are few things worse than being stuck indoors in the sweltering heat without air conditioning, expect, of course, being stuck indoors in the sweltering heat without air conditioning with dozens of children.

That is, unfortunately, the case for a church and daycare center in Johnston County, North Carolina, both of which were the targets of air conditioning theft overnight one Tuesday night in late July. Yes, it’s been an unusually warm summer, both here in Lansing and around the country, but does that mean we need to start worrying about AC thieves? Despite recent heat advisories in Lansing, there haven’t been any AC-related thefts, so far.

The church, Mount Pleasant Advent Christian Church, was stripped of two units, and the Childcare Network, ten minutes away, was robbed of four.

“It’s a bad day when somebody steals from the church,” said Lynette Hobbs of Mount Pleasant Advent Christian Church.

A similar refrain could be heard from Donna Luper, the assistant director for the Childcare Network: “It’s hot; why would someone do this at a childcare center? We keep children from six weeks to 12-years-old.”

Thankfully, portable air conditioners were brought in to fight the heat, and children were moved to different parts of the building that still had air conditioning.

The worst part is that this is a repeat offense. In 2009, four air conditioning units were stolen from the Childcare Network, and a pair was stolen from the Church in the same year. Who could have such an insidious need to steal air conditioning from churches and daycare centers? We may never know.

Police are investigating these crimes against heating and cooling everywhere, but most robberies go unsolved. There is one thing we do know for sure — maintaining safe and comfortable indoors temperatures is very important, especially for any building with children or seniors present.

Even without HVAC thieves on the loose, maintaining an air cooling system is hard enough. Most HVAC filters should be changed every three months. Air conditioners also use up about 5% of all electricity in the United States. One way to combat this energy use is to upgrade to high-efficiency air conditioners, which can reduce energy use by up to 50%.

Call your local HVAC specialists for air conditioning maintenance and air quality testing. That is, as long as you have a solid security system in place to prevent them from getting stolen in the night.