ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Two people are arrested for stealing power and water at their East Albany home. Dougherty County Police say the couple stole three power meters, and hooked one up to their home so they could get their electricity turned back on. The thieves didn't realize that meter led Police right to them.
Mitchell EMC officials say stolen power meters and metal theft is a growing problem this summer, one that's dangerous to the thieves and the community. It's also pretty dumb, because those meters have sensors in them that tell the power company when they've been tampered with, and right where they are.
Dougherty County Police arrested 28-year-old Christopher Tedesco and 32-year-old Angela Sorrell and charged them with theft by receiving and theft of services. Investigators say a couple of days ago they stole three power meters at the Suburban Mobile Home park, and hooked one of them up to their mobile home. When the stolen meter was hooked back up, Officials just let it tell them where it was.
"Our meters many a time are smarter than our vandals are," said Mitchell EMC Loss Control Coordinator Charles Gilbert.
Mitchell EMC officials say they have already had seven power meters stolen in the first week of July, about double the usual amount stolen in an entire month. They think the hot weather has crooks desperate to turn their air conditioning back on, after their power was cut off. But power officials warn these power panels have 200 amps of electricity, and one wrong move could be your last.
"It's probably 400 times the power readily available at this panel to cause, not injury, we are talking death," Gilbert said.
They say stolen power meters could also endanger others, because thieves usually leave the power lines exposed, and anyone that touches them by mistake could be killed. Officials show us what a proper vacant meter should look like.
"We come back with a particular plate that has our warning tag on it. Then of course we normally ring it up, and we put one of seals on it, with a designated number. That is a secure meter panel for us," Gilbert said.
So Mitchell EMC says stay away from electrical panels and it warns people thinking about stealing power meters to forget it. It's not only dangerous, but you can't use them to steal power because they will tell on you.
Investigators say Tedesco and Sorrell were also stealing water from Albany Water Gas and Light. They found parts of other stolen power meters in their home and stolen tools. They are being held in the Dougherty County Jail, which does provide air conditioning.
Georgia legislators included power meters in the new tougher metal theft laws last year. Stealing one is a felony, which could mean one year in jail if convicted. And Mitchell EMC says they will prosecute anyone stealing one.