Stealing electricity is on the rise


Several weeks ago in the town of Derby, New York, an electrician was caught stealing electricity for his home, apparently rigging it so that the power was pumped into his home without the meter picking it up. He had allegedly been doing this since 2003, and had stolen a total of $13,500 worth of electricity.

Energy and personal finance experts have a variety of strategies on how to save on your utility bills. Funny how stealing the power never seems to come up.

It's a rising trend, however. Power employees in Dothan, Alabama are reporting more attempts at stealing juice than ever before. Progress Energy Florida, Central Florida's largest electric company, investigates about 11,000 stolen power cases every year and saw at least a 15% rise in such crimes. And Nashville Electric Service told MSNBC that it has seen its caseload of power-stealing rise steadily.

And, of course, whenever anyone steals electricity, law-abiding customers see their own rates go higher, since the cost of the stolen power is passed onto them.

But ethics aside, the main argument against stealing electricity is that your odds of being fried to a nice crispy crunch increase dramatically. For a cautionary tale, look no further than the case of Lonnie Montgomery. The 33-year-old Montgomery, of Conway, Arkansas, became something of a poster child on why it isn't safe to steal electricity. His power was turned off, and he tried to get his electric going again. When he was found at his home on Skunk Hollow Road, dead from electrocution, he was still clutching his jumper cables.