COLUMBUS,  Ohio (WCMH) — Running a small business comes with many challenges on its own. Now, some on Sawmill Road have even more on their plates. At least four businesses on Sawmill Road had their air conditioning units stolen.

“It was very hard to recover from Covid, and now we have to deal with this. It just makes it very, mostly emotionally disturbing and difficult,” said Anna Panagiotopoulos, owner of Anna’s Greek Cuisine. 

Her restaurant in Sawmill Center has been open for 26 years. She said what happened early Friday morning was a first.

“It affected me a lot that first day because I never expected that,” she said. “I’m wishing that we can have more protection or maybe police can come around more often when we are closed because that’s when this happened. When we are open, I feel safe, but after hours, it starts to become a problem.”

Surveillance video shows a thief behind the building taking apart one of the units around 6:30 a.m. Another restaurant, a dentist’s office, and Sawmill Florist, all located in the same complex, also had their air conditioners stolen.

“I think the most important thing here is you are used to coming or go to your job or home where you feel safe, and now this happened, you are concerned,” said Minerva Irizarry, an employee at Sawmill Florist.

Surveillance video shows freon spray in the thief’s face before they take the unit. They then walk away, seemingly coughing.

“The freon just poof in their face and they ran away and came back,” Panagiotopoulos said as she smiled.

While that part of the video made her smile, she still wants whoever did this to be caught.

“This was devastating. I never want it to happen again,” she said. “I hope they catch who did this because this is not acceptable.”

Columbus police said there have not been any arrests yet, but the surveillance video should be helpful.