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Theft of AC freon rising in search for 'new high,' say Calif. cops

The theft of freon from air conditioning units is reportedly on the rise in the Sacramento area. CBS Sacramento

(CBS) SACRAMENTO, Ca. - Police in northern California say crooks have hit upon an increasingly popular way to chill out - by stealing the freon gas in air conditioners, and getting high on it.

Most recently, thieves scaled the roof of one business and stole three air conditioning units there, presumably both for scrap metal and the freon refrigerant, which is known to have hallucinatory effects, according to CBS Sacramento.

"It can get you delusional, like sniffing gasoline or paint, any toxic fumes," Joe Kessler, owner of McDonald Heating and Air, told the station. 

He reports that the company is seeing an increase in calls in which customers' air conditioners are out of freon.

As of the last year, federal regulations require that all new AC units come with a cap that can only be unlocked by a technician.  Without the cap, people with older units are more susceptible to thefts by thieves seeking an "AC high."

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