Local News

Police: Stolen Freon was used for huffing

Posted March 21, 2011 10:07 p.m. EDT
Updated March 22, 2011 5:40 p.m. EDT

— Apex police are investigating allegations that a group of teenagers stole Freon from neighbors' air conditioning units and used it for huffing.

Police said the thefts happened Sunday at 2010 and 2005 Jerimouth Drive in the Crockett's Ridge subdivision.

"We were called by a homeowner who witnessed some juveniles actually taking the Freon from one of the homes," said Capt. Ann Stephens with the Apex Police Department.

Police said four teenagers, ages 13 to 18, siphoned the Freon in plastic bags and then inhaled to get high, which is known as huffing. Two of them went to the hospital.

"It blocks oxygen from getting to your brain and basically causes your brain cells to die," said Dr. David Bell of Wake Teen Medical Services. "It's that process of asphyxiation, or the lack of oxygen, that actually give a temporary high."

He said huffing can have long-term consequences for users and may lead teens to experiment with more dangerous drugs down the road.

"You usually start with something fairly benign that's easy to get and then sort of work your way up," Bell said. "Your body gets used to things and you need more or a different kind of stimulus to feel something."

Susan Blanton has lived in the subdivision for nine years. She said she was shocked to hear that teens are huffing Freon.

"I can't believe that in their own backyard these parents don't know what they're children are doing," Blanton said. "I'm not saying my children are angels by any means. They are not, but I know what my children are doing."

Freon is the common name for a type of hydrochlorofluorocarbon, a chemical compound used in refrigerants, solvents and aerosol propellants. 

No charges have been filed, and the names of the teenage suspects are not being released.