New ordinance cracks down on electricity thieves

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City is taking steps to crack down on offenders who are stealing electricity.

OG&E says more than $700,000 a year is lost because of people stealing electricity, but a new ordinance hopes to help stop the problem.

“It's just a shame people are risking life and limb,” Kathleen O’Shea, with OG&E, said.

All in an effort to steal electricity.

“One guy blew out his foot trying to hook up an illegal tampering of electricity,” Oklahoma City Police Inspector Martin Stupka said.

Investigation photos show the dangerous lengths some are going to in order to steal power; in some cases from their neighbors but in many others directly from OG&E.

“People who actually go up and connect to the pole they are seriously risking electrocution and possible death.” O’Shea said.

A new ordinance is hoping to reduce the problem.

Previously these crimes would go through the district attorney, which was a lengthy process.

But this new city ordinance, which goes into effect Friday, allows police to ticket offenders up to $500 for each day the theft occurred.

“We are real pleased the city has put in this ordinance to make this a crime,” O’Shea said.

“It’s become quite a problem,” Stupka said.

Oklahoma City Police say they dealt with more than 100 electricity theft cases last year.

OG&E says system wide they see about 1500 cases a year.

“The thought of people who are not trained electricians going out and messing with electricity that really concerns us,” O’Shea said.

Police say it's a crime which puts the thief and others in danger.

“There's been some houses that have been burned,” Stupka said.

Police say the fine doesn't have to be to the person who hooked up the electricity, rather it can be applied to everyone inside a residence who is benefiting from that stolen electricity.

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