The seized haul is thought to be part of a haul stolen from German refrigerant supplier Arthur Friedrichs Kaeltemittel

GERMANY: Thieves are reported to have stolen around 1,000 cylinders of R134a, worth around €600,000, from German refrigerant supplier Arthur Friedrichs on Monday night.

While Arthur Friedrichs has not yet confirmed the theft to the Cooling Post, part of the haul is thought to have been intercepted yesterday by Dutch police near Apeldoorn.

A 20-year-old man from Utrecht was stopped while driving an overloaded truck at Driebergen, Wilp. Inside were 132 12.6kg cylinders of R134a.

As well as being heavily overloaded, the driver could not show cargo documents, and the police say that the transport of these hazardous substances did not comply with the regulations.

The police claim to have contacted German refrigerant supplier Arthur Friedrichs – whose brand appears on the cylinders. The company is said to have confirmed the theft of 1,000 refrigerant cylinders on Monday night. The 20-year-old driver was arrested.

Arthur Friedrichs Kaeltemittel, which is based in Seevetal, near Hamburg, was acquired by A-Gas earlier this year. The company has been supplying refrigerants for more than 60 years and is seen as a key player in the European automotive market.

Price rises

The European F-gas phase down and the squeeze on the higher GWP refrigerants, have made refrigerants an increasingly valuable commodity and a target for thieves.

Much of the illegal activity is being fuelled by the automotive sector, a large user of R134a for car air conditioning systems. While a 12.6kg cylinder cost around €100 in Germany last year, it now costs around €600. 

There was also a Dutch connection in a previous theft from the Münster outlet of another German refrigerant supplier. Leading distributor Westfalen was hit twice in July. In the first incident thieves got away with 851 20kg cylinders of R134a. Two weeks later, police interrupted another attempted theft. Three thieves ran off but a fourth suspect was arrested at the scene. He was also a Dutch national. It is not known whether there is any connection between the incidents.

A federal police spokesman told the Cooling Post at the time that they were aware of currently increasing thefts of refrigerants throughout Germany due to the significant price increases and market shortages.

Other incidents

Elsewhere in Germany this week, thieves are reported to have stolen 39 full and four empty refrigerant cylinders worth €15,000 from premises (thought by the Cooling Post to be a Linde facility) in Markranstädt, near Leipzig, over the weekend.

The same weekend, thieves targeted a facility in the Schoenefeld district of Leipzig and stole 31 cylinders of refrigerant.

Related stories:

German thieves target R134a15 August 2018
GERMANY: Rising costs and market shortages have led to increasing reports of thefts of refrigerant from commercial premises across Germany. Read more…

A-Gas buys German refrigerant business30 April 2018
UK/GERMANY: Refrigerant supplier and reclaimer A-Gas has expanded its European influence with the acquisition of German company Arthur Friedrichs Kaeltemittel GmbH. Read more…