The lead story of the August 11, 2014 Air conditioning Heating and Refrigeration NEWS is “Man Gets Prison Time for Venting R-22.” In this particular case he was stealing copper – he just did not bother to recover the refrigerant first. The police literally caught him in the act, and knowing what he did was a Federal violation, reported him to the EPA. Now he is serving 31 months in prison. Truthfully, most people who steal copper or vent refrigerant are not caught. However, this case proves that you CAN be caught, and there is a substantial penalty. Some people do the right thing because that is the way they conduct their lives. Others need some external reinforcement to avoid doing what they know they are not supposed to do. Without penalties for breaking the rules, these folks will ignore the them. Hopefully this incident will be widely publicized so that other potential thieves in need of external reinforcement will consider another line of work. Or at the very least, steal something that does not involve venting refrigerant.
Here is a link to the story Prison Time for Venting Refrigerant