Each year, utilities across the country cope with thieves—folks who deliberately tamper with their electric meter to steal power. Not only is this practice extremely dangerous, it’s a serious crime with hefty fines and possible jail time.
We’ve seen people do some dangerous things—using knives, forks, magnets, jumper cables, and any number of other objects to get around paying for the power they use. However, not only are these individuals stealing from their fellow co-op members, they’re also risking their lives and those of our workers.
According to the Cooperative Research Network, a division of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, power delivered through a compromised meter can cause an electrical catastrophe. A short circuit could produce an arc flash bright enough to cause blindness and powerful enough to launch fragments of shrapnel-like, red-hot debris. Serious injury or death from electrocution, explosion or fire often results from meter tampering. Only trained Central Alabama Electric Cooperative (CAEC) personnel wearing protective clothing should work on meters.
Electricity theft is not a victimless crime. Your not-for-profit co-op loses revenue and expends resources to investigate tampering. These costs are then passed on to the entire membership. National estimates vary, but The Washington Post cited revenue protection officials who claim between $1 billion and $10 billion worth of electricity is stolen from utilities annually.
Everyone pays for lost power. While we continue to monitor for theft through technology and on site personel, please let us know if you suspect meter tampering. Call us at 1-800-5445-5735 to report possible theft of service. All information can be given anonymously.