Can Your Neighbor Steal Your Electricity? (How to Stop Them)
Is your neighbor stealing electricity from you? If you happen to notice your power bills have become unusually high, this could be the reason why. Can your neighbor steal electricity without you knowing it though?
Your neighbors can steal electricity from your home in various ways. The most common way is to illegally tap into your power lines and take electricity directly from there. Most people don’t have the equipment needed to steal electricity through your meter, but there are some criminals who do.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss a few ways your neighbors could be stealing electricity from you and how to stop them. We’ll also go over a few ways you can save money on your own electricity bills too.
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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!
While you can’t really be home 24/7 to keep watch, it’s good to know who is setting foot on your property and what they’re doing.
Having a decent security system like a Ring Video Doorbell or Outdoor Security Cameras (both on Amazon) is a smart thing to have.
Additionally, you can pick up some Electric Meter Security Seals to keep your meter box tamper free.
How Can You Tell if Someone Is Tapping Into Electricity?
The best way to find out if someone is tapping into your electricity is to turn off your main breaker and cut all power to your house. Check your electric meter to see if it’s turning. If it is still turning and shows no signs of stopping, then it’s very likely that someone is stealing electricity from you.
Is your meter surrounded by anything that isn’t usually there? A metal box with wires coming out of it or strange markings on the power pole could be someone tapping into electricity illegally. You may even notice people working on the power lines without proper gear.
One of the best methods to determine if someone is stealing electricity from you is to monitor an electrical usage meter. Turn off the main circuit breaker when no one is at home or in the office.
Then, check the meter when you arrive back from work after a few days to see if there has been a change in the reading.
If the number is considerably higher than what your family consumes on a daily basis, someone might have tapped into electricity and used it illegally. A power strip with multiple outlets can be purchased to monitor household power usage.
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When you are not at home, simply turn off all the appliances plugged into the strip. If someone is using electricity without your permission, there will obviously be a spike of power used once you do come back home.
When using this method to see if anyone has tapped electricity illegally, keep in mind that appliances being used can throw off the readings. It could also be that your family just happens to have multiple electrical devices that are always on.
If it has been a week and there is no real change in normal power usage, it might be time to get more serious about tracking your family’s electricity usage.
Signs That Someone Is Stealing My Electricity
If you think that someone may be stealing electricity from your home, there are certain signs that will let you know:
Check your Power Bill
If your power bill seems unusually high, it could be because of a neighbor stealing electricity. Keep an eye on it though, because the thief may only do it every now and then.
If you notice your bill going up every month for a year, you should call your power company to see if they can give you any advice. They might even send someone around to check the meter and confirm whether or not it’s been tampered with.
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Check your Fuses
Sometimes a power surge can blow a fuse. If this happens and you have an older home, it could be a sign of someone stealing electricity from you.
When the lights or another appliance in your home is flickering or going on and off, something outside of the house may be causing it. It’s possible that someone might be stealing electricity from your home.
Look for Low Hanging Wires & Cables Outside
If wires are hanging low near your home or have been tampered with, don’t touch them. Someone could be trying to steal electricity from you by using these wires.
You can also check if there are any strange markings on the power pole that connects the power lines to your house. If there are unusual symbols or numbers written down anywhere around the pole, this could be a sign that someone is stealing electricity.
Look for Signs Around Your Meter Box
There are specific markings that indicate that someone may be illegally tapping into electricity from your home.
If you see a green box with black or red markings, this is for meter circuits. If the color of the markings has been changed to green, this means it’s a ground wire and someone could have made their own connections to steal electricity.
If you’ve found markings on your meter box, someone might be stealing electricity from you. In this case, it’s important to shut off the main circuit breaker and call an electric company to come out and install a lock on the panel.
You might also enjoy our post on Can a Utility Company Come on My Property Without Permission?
How Can Someone Steal Electricity from You?
If you suspect that someone is stealing electricity from your home or business, the best thing to do is check for signs of tampering.
When people illegally tap electricity, they often leave a wire exposed on the outside of their homes. Sometimes, this wire might even run through a window and along the siding.
Perhaps you have seen a suspicious looking wire somewhere on your property. If you have, make sure to call up your power company to handle the job of checking whether or not someone is stealing electricity from your home.
The last thing you want to do is cut into this wire without knowing what it is first. This can be dangerous if there are high power levels coming through it.
Once you call your power company, they’ll be able to tell you definitively whether or not you have a problem with electricity theft.
Is Someone Stealing My Electricity in My Apartment?
If you’re living in an apartment, can your neighbor steal electricity from you? The answer here is also a resounding yes.
When you live in an apartment complex, it can be difficult to determine if someone has tapped electricity from your home without your permission.
With all the wires and cables running through the walls of many older buildings, it’s impossible to tell what’s going on behind your neighbor’s closed doors sometimes.
Unfortunately, it’s easy for them to steal your electricity. Even if you’re on the top floor, someone could still be stealing energy by chaining into an exposed wire or even tapping directly into the meter box.
This is particularly common in apartment buildings where one person might have access to more than just their own apartment.
Is Electricity Theft a Crime?
Electricity theft is a crime. If someone is suspected of illegally tapping electricity, it’s considered larceny, which is a form of stealing.
If a person is caught by the police and charged with electricity theft, they can face fines and even jail time. Electricity thieves are often looking at up to a year in prison.
A person will always need to pay for electricity if they’re found guilty of electricity theft. The fines and jail time are just extra consequences of this crime.
What Is the Penalty for Stealing Electricity?
The penalty for stealing electricity is determined by the state where you live. However, it is always considered larceny and the sentence can include fines and even jail time.
To answer this question more thoroughly, let’s look at what the penalty is for stealing electricity in Oklahoma City.
The majority of Oklahoma City, OK falls into Grady County’s jurisdiction. The fine for illegally tapping electricity within the city limits is $20 to $500 per charge. There are also potential jail time penalties if someone is caught stealing power more than once.
How Can You Prevent Electricity Theft?
If you want to prevent your neighbors from stealing electricity, there are steps you can take to make it more difficult for them. One way is by purchasing a security box that has a lock for your electricity meter.
This way, when you aren’t home, it will be more difficult for someone to get in and turn the electricity off on your house without having physical access to the power wire.
You can also purchase an audible alarm that attaches to the outside of your home near the electric meter. When someone tampers with your electricity, this alarm will sound and alert you to the fact that someone is attempting to steal electricity from your home.
If you’re looking for another way to prevent electricity theft in your area, go online and contact your local power company. There might be a prevention program offered that you didn’t even know about where you live.
Sometimes, electricity theft happens because people just don’t realize it’s wrong. There are precautions you can take if you want to keep the power flowing to your home and not have to worry about anyone taking it illegally – sometimes without even realizing it.
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Can You Go to Jail for Stealing Electricity?
If caught stealing electricity, you can face fines and jail time. According to state law, stealing electricity is considered larceny.
This crime can be punishable by up to a year in prison and fines of $5,000 per charge. If someone has stolen electricity more than once, they could face even more jail time with higher court fees.
The severity of the sentence will depend on the state where you live. However, stealing electricity is always considered larceny no matter what state you are in.
If someone has tampered with your electric meter without permission or if they’ve hooked up meters on your property to their power supply, you should call the local authorities immediately.
There are various ways your neighbor can try to steal your electricity. Make sure that you always take the proper security precautions.
When in doubt, call an electrician or your local utility’s customer service line to make sure you are protecting yourself against electricity theft.