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Old 06-02-2009, 12:37 PM   #1
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Electricty theft


My daughter lives in a Condo and we are suspecting her electricity is been stolen by one of her neighbors. Another neighbor caught someone turning off her meter 2 months ago. Her bill has doubled since then which is very interesting because she is away 12 hours a day and just about turns off (or lowers) the electrical usage at that time. The electric company said they could only check the accuracy of her meter. So here's my question: "Should we hire someone to look into this and could an electrician detect a theft if there is one since he cannot go into the adjacent condos?"

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Old 06-02-2009, 01:15 PM   #2
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Electricty theft


The POCO should be able to determine who has had a marked and recent decrease in their meter readings.

If they are unresponsive, hire an Electrician to investigate.

But.........The first thing that I would do is turn off the main breaker for the unit and check the meter. If it is a-moving, someone is a-stealing!

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Old 06-03-2009, 08:13 AM   #3
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Electricty theft


You would need to tap into her lines somewhere. The suspects would be the apartments closest to the meter and the ones surrounding her condo. The meter area would be hard to do as you would see wires where there should be none. The meter readers would see that.
Has the electric rates changed recently?
Only caveat about shutting off the power is that if it's being tapped into through a wall it also shuts off the stolen line. It will only work if the power is being tapped between the meter and her panel.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:17 AM   #4
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Electricty theft


You could unplug everything in the apt: Refrig, clocks, electronics that draw low 'vampire' power, everything. If the meter is still turning, you've got an issue. Then, start turning off breakers to until the meter stops moving... When it does, you've found your tap line. And then you go and call the po po.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:24 AM   #5
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Electricty theft


"Another neighbor caught someone turning off her meter 2 months ago." This sounds like it might be tapped before her panel.
Start by turning off the main breaker and see if the meter turns. If not then do what jpelzer suggested.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:41 AM   #6
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Electricty theft


If someone is going to the effort of covertly stealing power you should call the local police department. Ask for a community liaison officer or neighborhood detective. In some areas of the country this is REAL enough a problem that police departments have established protocols for this.

I had a client who was battling an outrageously high electric bill with the POCO (250x normal). The POCO was not interested in investigating, they just wanted him to pay the bill. Got the police involved - turns out a neighbor was running a hydroponic grow operation and needed more juice... and he wasn't growing tomatoes.

Needless to say, this is not the sort of person you want to go up against without some Authoritative help. Worst thing that happens is the police tell you they won't help.

Good luck.
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Old 06-03-2009, 11:16 AM   #7
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Electricty theft


Leah is spot on...stealing electricity, water, cable etc is fairly easy for the authorities to prosecute. It's odd that the PoCo wouldn't come out and visually inspect the meter area...they would be able to spot something out of the ordinary very easily. If nothing else have them come out and check the accuracy of the meter...'least that will be out of the equation.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:13 PM   #8
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Electricty theft


20 years ago you might have been laughed out of the precinct, but the case I mentioned was 10 years ago.

- In Portland, Oregon, we would see these types of issues - sometimes as simple as an extension cord plugged into a rarely used outside outlet that ran, mysteriously, into the neighbors garage.

- And here in Farm Country, I have a FOAF who had a skyrocketing electric bill at one of his pump sights. Someone tapped off it with romex and was using it to power his RV camp in the nearby woods.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:20 PM   #9
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Electricty theft


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theft_of_services
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:41 PM   #10
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I rural locations around the state, many would tap the water line before and after the meter and steal water from the rural water supplier. The two taps would still register usage, but only half or so went through the meter. The service guys would stand there with a digital camera, more recently cell phones documenting the theft, AND calling the county sheriff. With out leaving the scene of the crime the thief could not make alterations, the evidence would be undisputed when confirmed by the Sheriff or Deputy and documented with different but the same photos. Case closed...fine issued, estimated cost of water stolen (always inflated) and in the case of repeat offenders some got a day or two in jail.

So a take home for the OP...with out disturbing anything...it may be worth take a few pictures.
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Old 06-03-2009, 12:49 PM   #11
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a farmer had power lines going over his property so he wound a big loop of wire on the ground, thereby making a huge air-core transformer.
PoCo knew they had a leak but they had a devil of a time finding it. Probably the coil was not in plain sight.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:53 PM   #12
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Electricty theft


As many other posters have suggested the easiest way to find the culprit, who knowingly or otherwise taps into their neighbor's Electric meter is to shut off the main breaker to the apartment. And whoever complains about the lights not working is the ONE! However, there could --in some cases-- be an "innocent" explanation for running lights and appliances on someone else's meter! I've seen it in some Multi-Level apartments (more accurately "Split-level") where the plans were changed in midstream. In other words, what started out as the upper level of the First floor ended up as the Lower level of the Second floor. But the wiring was left as in the original plan.
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:05 PM   #13
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Someone messing with the meter doesn't sound accidental
It's a crime
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Old 06-03-2009, 09:50 PM   #14
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Electricty theft


Cops are for the spineless.

Sorry. Just how I live and those I associate with live.
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Old 06-03-2009, 10:03 PM   #15
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Electricty theft


Steeling $$ from someone is spineless
I'd have their butt in jail in a second

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