Beaufort men accused in air conditioner thefts

Two men charged Tuesday with allegedly selling parts of two stolen air-conditioning units to local scrap-metal yards could be linked to a recent rash of similar thefts in northern Beaufort County, authorities say.

Ryan Scott Blount, 23, of Port Royal and Travis Kyle Walls, 28, of Beaufort were arrested during a traffic stop near the intersection of Trask Parkway and Parker Drive while transporting six air-conditioning units believed to have been stolen in Charleston County, a Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said.

Blount and Walls also were linked to a pair of air-conditioning units allegedly stolen from homes in Pleasant Point on Lady's Island and Mink Point in Burton. They later sold the units to scrap yards in Hardeeville and Burton, Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

The units were two of 10 the men sold to the scrap yards, according to authorities. McIntosh said investigators are working to determine whether the other sold units were stolen.

Blount and Walls were charged with one count each of receiving stolen goods and were being held Wednesday in the Beaufort County Detention Center, with bond set at $2,130, according to the jail log.

More than two dozen air conditioners have been reported stolen from vacant properties on Lady's and St. Helena islands and in Seabrook over the past two months.

"It is likely (Blount and Walls) will be linked to other AC-unit thefts in Beaufort County," McIntosh said.

As they investigate possible ties between the men and the recent thefts, investigators will make sure the local scrap yards that received the goods comply with a state law enacted last year to prevent the theft of air-conditioners and other items often stolen for their copper elements, McIntosh said.

The law requires anyone trying to buy, sell or transport nonferrous metals, such as copper, to first obtain a permit from their local sheriff's office.

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