Electricity thefts on the rise
Tampa, Florida – It could be these tough economic times, but whatever the reason cases of electricity theft are on the rise.
Tampa Electric Company says it has seen a 20% rise in the crime, which is similar to what Progress Energy is reporting.
"In the last year or so, we’ve seen an increase between 15 and 20% just in those investigations," Progress Energy spokesperson Cherie Jacobs told 10 Connects.
Experts say electricity thefts nationwide cost utilities about $6-billion each year.
The crime is also is also extremely dangerous, according to John Hammerberg the supervisor of revenue protection at TECO.
"One little slip could cause an electrocution easily or an explosion," Hammerberg said.
TECO has 3 full-time people investigating cases of electricity theft, while Progress Energy has 8 people assigned to investigating the crime.
The penalty for stealing electricity is a possibly 1 year jail sentence and a $5,000 fine.