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Penalty for Stealing Electricity in Texas
It might shock you to know that electricity theft is a massive problem in the United States. Every year, homeowners and renters spend an estimated $100 million for electricity that they don’t use. That’s the amount of electricity stolen annually and makes electricity the third most stolen item in the country.
Because of how frequently electricity is stolen, strict penalties are in place in Texas. The severeness of the penalty depends on how much electricity is stolen and how many times the thief has been caught before. This article will look at the specific penalties of stealing electricity, how it’s possible, and how to detect if it’s happening to you.
Is It Illegal to Steal Electricity in Texas?
It is 100% illegal for anyone to steal electricity in Texas. No matter what part of the state you live in or your living situation, stealing is never ok. Whether the electricity is being stolen from a homeowner, renter, business, or directly from the power company doesn’t matter. Electricity theft isn’t a victimless crime because it costs someone money.
Electricity theft is specifically covered by the Texas Penal Code 31.04 Theft of Service. To qualify as theft of service, someone has to receive a service with the expectation of compensation, but it’s never made. Therefore, stealing electricity falls under this section of the penal code and is a crime.
What are Ways That People Steal Electricity?
Stealing electricity is much easier than you might think. Because we don’t want to give you any ideas, we won’t go into too much specific detail. However, here are the main ways that people steal electricity in Texas.
- They plug a cord into an outside outlet on the side of your house.
If you notice random cords plugged into your home but don’t belong to you, you should contact the authorities. Someone is likely stealing your electricity and adding to your monthly utility bill.
- They tap into the power lines and steal electricity from power companies.
One of the most common ways people steal electricity is by tapping into power lines. This isn’t as difficult as you might think, and someone with electrical experience or know-how can do it quite easily.
- They tap directly into your electric meter and steal electricity from you.
Tapping directly into someone’s electrical meter is more difficult than power lines, but still possible. If you notice extra wires or cords on your electrical meter or pole, contact your power company, and they’ll get to the bottom of it.
If you or someone you know is thinking about stealing electricity, Don’t! It’s illegal, and the fines you’ll pay when you get caught aren’t worth it. Instead, contact us at Energenie, and we’ll enroll into an electricity plan that saves you so much money it feels like stealing!
How to Know if Someone is Stealing My Electricity?
Now that you know how people commit the crime let’s look at how you can prevent it.
- Staying on top of your electricity bill
Staying on top of your electricity bill is extremely important. Not only will it let you know if someone is stealing your electricity, but it will also help you know if you’re overpaying.
- Turn your electricity off and check the meter.
Inside your home, at the main breaker panel, turn the main switch off that controls power to your home. Next, go outside and check the electric meter to see if it’s still spinning. If it is, there’s a good chance that someone has tapped into your electric meter.
- Watch out for extra cords and wires.
If you notice new or extra wires attached to your electric meter or pole, there’s a good chance that someone has tapped into your electricity. A more obvious sign of electricity theft is extension cords plugged into your home.
If your electricity bill is unusually high but no one’s stealing it, it might be time to change electricity plans. Contact us at EnerGenie to find out how we can save you money by enrolling you into a new plan that makes sense for you.
What is the Penalty for Stealing Electricity in Texas?
The penalty for stealing electricity can range from a fine to jail time. It all depends on how much electricity you stole, who you stole it from, and which offense this is for you.
- Class A Misdemeanor
This charge results from a theft of service totaling more than $500 and less than $1500. The punishment for a Class A Misdemeanor includes up to one year in jail, a $4,000.00 fine or both
- Class B Misdemeanor
This charge results from theft of service valued at more than $50 and less than $500. A Class B Misdemeanor can result in confinement in jail for 180 days, a $2,000 fine, or both.
- Class C Misdemeanor
This charge results from theft of service valued at less than $50. It results in a $500 fine.
- Felony Charges
In Texas, stealing more than $1,500 worth of electricity is a felony.
A felony theft charge carries up to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Contact us to find out how to make the switch today!
How Do I Report the Theft of Electricity?
If you believe that someone is stealing your electricity, you should start by contacting your electric provider. Either they will report the stolen electricity or instruct you on your next steps. They will also help you calculate the value of your stolen electricity. Once you and your power company have the authorities involved, they will track down the thief and act accordingly.
However, if your electricity isn’t being stolen but your bills are higher than you’d like, EnerGenie can help. We’ll evaluate your current plan and enroll you in a better one that will save you big time. All we need is your zip code, some information about your home, and energy usage, and we’ll take care of the rest!
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