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AC criminals a comedy of errors

Inept criminals in China, Taiwan and the United States have been a source of refrigeration and air conditioning industry amusement recently.

A thief caught in the act of apparently attempting to steal cabling connected to an outdoor air conditioning unit three stories above ground spent 60 hours trapped on top of the equipment as he tried to evade capture by police in Guangdong Province, China.

It’s been reported that he eventually gave himself up due to suffering cramp in his legs, but not before a local air conditioning engineer shouted up to him asking if he could maintain the AC unit while he was up there.

Across the Taiwan Strait in Taichung City, police attending the scene of road accident found the driver of a ute that had collided with a parked car slumped and with a hose up his nostril, connected to a refrigerant cylinder stored in the tray.

Officers shut off the refrigerant cylinder and revived the man, who claimed sniffing refrigerant helped with his driving skills and that inhaling the gas helped him deal with stress, depression and fatigue. Naturally officers sent him to hospital, then a psychiatrist and suspended his driver’s license.

In Wichita, the largest city in Kansas, United States, a scrap metal thief is being investigated for a federal crime after cutting copper tubing attached to air conditioners, venting ozone-depleting refrigerant to atmosphere in the process.

The copper recovered would have only been worth $50 and the offence relatively minor but the thief in question was a serial offender so the Wichita Police Department decided to charge him with three counts of venting a class 2 substance, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years and up to US$750,000 (A$971,000) in fines.

Last year an Ohio scrap metal thief who raided 49 air conditioners – causing $US200,000 worth of damage – was charged with violating the federal US Clean Air Act because his crimes resulted in the release of ozone-depleting substances. He entered a plea deal agreeing to spend 31 months behind bars, 12 months under court supervision and perform 200 hours of community service.

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