Thieves Steal Freon From Air Condition Units

Wednesday, October 4th 2006, 9:58 am
By: News On 6

If you've noticed it’s hot in your house or your business, it might not be a faulty air conditioner. Would you believe that people are stealing the Freon out of the air-conditioners?

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg says the air conditioning at the Skin Medic Salon in Tulsa is locked up. If you have to look kind of close to see it, but they now have a lock on the Freon hose.

What might surprise you is why people were stealing it. At first, salon owner Pam Brewer thought there were just something wrong with the thermostat, because no matter how long they set it, it stayed hot. "And being our age that we are and a group of women, we didn't know if we were having hot flashes or if there was a distinct problem going on." Then the service tech told them all the Freon was gone from the AC unit. "Obviously, all of it being gone, fairly new unit, somebody had stolen it."

"If it's all gone in a day, then more than likely it's been a huffing party." That's right, you might never have heard of it. The News on 6 had never heard of it, but repairman Michael Messimore say it's not uncommon for teens or homeless people to inhale the Freon right from the valve to get high, also known as huffing.

There have been cases all over the country. And Messimore says it's incredibly dangerous. "It's very sad. It sucks the oxygen out of your body. People die the first time. It's not a gateway thing. It's a killer."

It's also expensive for the business that has to replace the Freon. “It holds somewhere around 10 pounds of refrigerant. Let's say refrigerant is $20 a pound. You do the math. That's $200."

Brewer says she was surprised enough that someone would steal the Freon right out of the air-conditioner. "But amazing that somebody would inhale Freon for fun, yes."