Company warns about stealing power

Thieves who tamper with utility facilities to steal energy or equipment are putting their lives and freedom on the line, UIL Holdings Corp. and The United Illuminating Co. warned.

The company issued the warning after a man suffered third-degree burns cutting into a live UI power cable on Nov. 29 in New Haven. Some 3,000 UI customers briefly lost electric service due to the incident. On the same day, Milford police, acting on a complaint from UI, arrested a local man on charges he stole more than $5,000 worth of electricity from UI by tampering with his electric meter.

The company has a full division dedicated to protecting infrastructure assets, and these individuals practically work as full-time detectives. They employ a variety of sophisticated tools to detect theft and fraud, including analysis of usage patterns.

“We work on an ongoing basis with police and other law-enforcement agencies to root out those who tamper with our equipment or steal energy,” said Joseph Thomas, UI’s vice president for Electric System Operations and Client Fulfillment. “In each and every case, we use all of the legal tools available to us and seek prosecution to the fullest extent of civil and criminal law.”

The company warned that there is generally no way to tell if a line or piece of equipment is carrying potentially fatal voltages of electricity. Tampering with electric meters or other equipment not only poses a grave danger to the thief, but also to anyone else who may come into contact with that equipment.

Signs of energy theft include evidence of tampering with electric meters, such as strange wires, jumper cables, or holes drilled into the equipment. Other indications of possible theft include efforts to restrict access to the utility meters on a property, or people who are not utility employees working on utility meters or equipment.

Anyone with information about energy theft or tampering with utility equipment should report it to the utility. If there is imminent danger, dial 911. To report theft of utility service, call The United Illuminating Co., 800-891-2922; Southern Connecticut Gas Co. and Connecticut Natural Gas Corp., 800-860-3309; and Berkshire Gas Co., 800-292-5012 or 413-499-1680.

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