Copper thieves destroyed or damaged more than a dozen rooftop air conditioning units leaving businesses in a Stone Mountain strip mall sweltering in the oppressive heat.

According to DeKalb police, the thieves climbed up onto the roof of the Rockbridge Crossing Shopping Plaza at the corner of Rockbridge and Hairston roads either Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

They destroyed several new air conditioning units and damaged other older units in an attempt to steal the copper tubing inside.

“This is not funny. This is really serious,” said Atlanta Pet Care Center manager Tigist Lulesegd.

She and the rest of the staff spent the day shuttling water bowls to more than ten dogs still boarded inside their facility at the strip mall.

Thieves Steal Copper From AC Units

Lulesegd also set up fans and personally bought a portable air conditioning unit to try and keep the dogs cool. Dogs don’t sweat, they pant; and need water to cool off.

“They have to get water all the time,” Lulesegd told Channel 2’s Richard Elliot. “If they get heat stroke, it’s very dangerous. We could lose them.”

Lulesegd told Elliot she’s called several air conditioning repair companies, but can’t get anyone to come fix the unit until next week.

“Due to this, we’ve lost a lot of business,” said Lulesegd. “This is extremely dangerous for the dogs. They cannot survive in this kind of heat.

Next door, the Square Bros. barber shop remains open, though one of the owners, Eddie Powell, told Elliot it’s miserable inside.

“It’s at 92-degrees right now,” said Powell. “It’s reall hot to work under these conditions cutting sweaty heads. It makes it very difficult.”

Further down the mall, Academy of the Arts Dance Studio owner Susan McGhee is busy trying to make new plans for her summer dance camp.

“I’m very frustrated,” she said. “Because of this economy and not being able to conduct business, it’s very difficult for us.”

An air conditioning expert told Elliot the thieves probably got no more than $40 to $50 worth of copper from each destroyed unit. But it will cost the business owners between $2000 and $4000 to replace them.

Elliot saw a DeKalb police detective climbing up on the roof searching for clues Friday afternoon.

Tigist Lulesegd of the Atlanta Pet Care Center is also busy trying to find places for the pets now sweltering inside her business.

“It’s terrible. I have no words for this,” said Lulesegd. “I’m extremely upset. It doesn’t make sense at all.”