LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Police say it's a crime that is more common than you might think - people stealing electricity. It has some serious safety implications and jail time. NewsChannel 11's Ann Wyatt Little reports on why LP&L and the Lubbock Police Department are cracking down.
It’s costly and dangerous, and it’s happening all over town. In fact, three people have been indicted by grand jury for stealing power from LP &L and the company is actively filing police reports if they suspect you are stealing.
It’s a crime that’s not always easy to detect, at least not right away. “If you do it, we’ll file a police report,” says Chris Simms with LP&L.
Simms says the crime is costly. This fiscal year alone the company has recovered over a quarter of a million dollars in stolen services, but more important than the cost is the danger. “The reason why LP &L doesn’t want you to do this is because it’s dangerous,” says Simms.
Each meter is sealed. Once the seal is broken the live electricity becomes a hazard for both those stealing and LP&L employees. "About three to four months ago an employee who was reading a meter and was shocked and burned,” says Simms about the danger to meter readers.
Captain Greg Stevens with the Lubbock Police Department says it's the electric companies that alert the police to these crimes. "There's not anything in place that alerts the police or electric company immediately," says Stevens.
Stevens also says the crime is more common than most people are aware of. "It doesn't take much for it to become a felony,” he adds.
"Sure people will pay fines and penalties but paying with your life is not worth an $80 electric bill," says Simms.
The employee who was burned is doing well. If you tamper with your meter LP&L will fine you $200. Stealing utilities is a felony and those convicted could spend up to two years in a state jail.
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