“Huffers” Want to Sniff Your AC

Thieves used to just be looking for copper in air conditioners. But a new set of criminals are leaving North Texans in hot homes.

Dominga Gutierrez, who works for NBC 5, said she couldn't figure out why her Arlington house was boiling hot when she came home from work.

"It was getting between 90 and 95 degrees," she said. "It was pretty brutal."

Gutierrez said she assumed her AC unit had normal wear-and-tear that just needed to get fixed.

But her AC repairman finally figured it out after four or five calls: Someone was stealing the Freon in her unit.

"They're putting it in paper bags or balloons and breathe this stuff. I've caught them," said Ed Bentley, of Bentley AC and Heating, Inc.

Bentley said he's worked on several air-conditioning units in the Arlington area where someone has busted open the Freon valve to get a quick high.

He said a $40 lock can keep "huffers" out of the Freon. And it's cheaper than replacing the freon.

"Thirty gallons of compressed Freon will cost you a few hundred dollars -- plus the visit by a repairman," Bentley said.

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