Thieves stealing, selling Freon on black market - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Thieves stealing, selling Freon on black market

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

If your AC unit is out of Freon, it may not be because it just ran out.

Freon is being pilfered from air conditioning units and sold in the black market now that the price servicers pay for it jumped from $250 to $600 per unit.

"We'd go to houses that had intact looking air conditioning units on them and they have no Freon in them. And we'd do leak tests and we can't find any holes in the system," says Steve Ray, owner of Steve Ray's Services, "We had one supplier last year that had a truck stolen with a fork lift and several pallets of Freon."

Ray says servicers have to be licensed to buy Freon, so those who are unlicensed typically purchase theirs from off the black market and through thieves.

"People steal it from suppliers and air conditioning companies and then sell it to unlicensed contractors," he says.

The brazen burglars are taking 30 to 50 pounds of Freon at a time. While it may seem like quite the chore, Ray says it's not as difficult as it seems.

"It's a pretty simple operation to do if you know how to do it, and of course recovery machines are pretty easy to get your hands on too; any pawn shops have a lot of them," says Ray.

In order to prevent Freon in your unit from being stolen, Ray says to have it in a fenced-in area and invest in a locking cap that prevents regular wrenches from taking the Freon cap off.

The Freon being stolen is the R22 that's used in the common air conditioning units. Ray says the new environmentally friendly Freon for new AC units – 410A – is decreasing in price and isn't being stolen like the R22.

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