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RACINE — A Racine man is facing up to almost 13 years in prison after he allegedly stole air cans from Best Buy and was found huffing them in his car.

William Bassler, 47, was charged Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, in Racine County Circuit Court with two felony counts of bail jumping and one misdemeanor count of intentionally abusing a hazardous material as a repeat offender. If convicted, he faces up to 13 years in prison. Because he has a previous conviction from 2020, he could have 10 years of additional time tacked onto any sentence he might receive.

The criminal complaint: theft, huffing of air cans

According to the criminal complaint, employees from Best Buy called the police to report a man who stole a number of air cans, and they were concerned he was huffing them in his car in the parking lot. When officers arrived, they made contact with Bassler who admitted he huffed one and had stolen several air cans with the intention of huffing them.

Bassler was assigned a $3,000 cash bond and ordered to not possess or consume hazardous substances or to have contact with any Best Buy stores. He will next be in court on Feb. 8 for his preliminary hearing.

The dangers of huffing

Huffing is a term for inhaling fumes to experience a high. This form of substance abuse is popular among younger people, especially where obtaining illegal drugs can be hard to find. Huffing can lead to asphyxiation and death. Sudden sniffing death syndrome can result during even the first attempt at huffing.

American Addiction Centers states that “long-term use of certain inhalants can lead to asphyxia-related brain damage, progressive liver injury, hearing loss, bone marrow disease, and more.”

If you or someone you know is abusing inhalents, help is available. Visit Behavioral Health Services of Racine County for local resources.

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