Westar Investigating Spike In Electricity Thefts

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Monday, August 6, 2012

Local authorities often see a spike in crimes during the summertime. But the extreme heat has some thieves working overtime.

Westar Energy said cases of electricity thefts have jumped more than 100-percent over the past few months. The electric company said suspects splice into a Westar line, plug their neighbor’s outlet, or tamper with another meter to steal electricity.

“We think the weather has something to do with it,” said Paige McLaren, Westar revenue protection.

Westar has investigated more than 300 cases so far this year, compared to 198 incidents during the same period last year.

Thieves could be electrocuted trying to open the meter box or tapping into a hot line. Or they could cause a fire plugging into a neighbors’ house with an extension cord.

“It’s dangerous for the person committing the theft and for the unsuspecting neighbors who have no idea it’s going on,” McLaren said.

The company said it looks for red flags on customers’ bills to find electricity bandits. Those who are caught stealing electricity will be required to pay back what had been stolen. Criminal charges could also be filed.

Anyone who needs help paying their electric bill is asked to call Westar Customer service at 1-800-383-1183.

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