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Stolen meter, why?
January 29, 2009 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Why would someone steal the electricity meter from the outside of a house?

My bf came home tonight to discover that our apartment had no power. Neighbors on both sides of us had power, so he called the electric company. Nstar came out, and the technician discovered that the meter was missing from the outside of the house. There were tracks in the snow indicating that someone had jumped the fence and stolen the power meter. Nothing else was disturbed, and no entry was gained in either our side or our neighbor's side of the house (it's a duplex). The neighbor's meter was left intact. We're fine, have power restored and have notified our landlord and the police, but we're stymied why someone would steal a meter? Any ideas?
posted by sarahmelah to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Copper
posted by Seamus at 7:19 PM on January 29, 2009


Copper.

On preview, what Seamus said.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:20 PM on January 29, 2009


In the immortal words of Rick James, "Cocaine is a helluva drug". Also, Meth.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:26 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Devilment.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 7:27 PM on January 29, 2009


Oh, I should have said, I asked the Nstar guy if someone would steal it for copper. He said there wasn't enough in it to make it worth their while.
posted by sarahmelah at 7:54 PM on January 29, 2009


I could very well be talking out of my arse here, but depending on meter design... I think that the missing link in a lot of places where electricity is shut off is a component or two in the meter, or the meter itself. I know that construction sites where the electrician has put up a pole and housing, and the electric company has stretched a wire to the poll, have an empty place where the meter goes until the city inspector signs off on it and the electric company can put the meter in place and turn things on.
posted by SpecialK at 8:02 PM on January 29, 2009



Oh, I should have said, I asked the Nstar guy if someone would steal it for copper. He said there wasn't enough in it to make it worth their while.


Sure, but the thieves don't know that.
posted by jgirl at 8:02 PM on January 29, 2009


Because a great many laws are common sense, a great deal of criminal behavior is stupid.
posted by Ookseer at 9:54 PM on January 29, 2009


I had a hillbilly neighbor once who didn't pay his electric bill. When they shut off his power he pulled his meter, did something, replaced his meter and restored his power. The power company shut off his power at the pole. He shimmied up the pole and re-set the breaker. The power company took his meter. He stole mine. I called the power company, they called the sheriff.
When he got out of jail he apologized and gave me a pig.
Maybe in a couple weeks you'll get a pig.
posted by Floydd at 11:44 PM on January 29, 2009 [222 favorites]


Having worked for an electric utility I second SpecialK. Power is shut off in stages, first you put insulators on the meter so it doesn't make connection. And if the customer bypasses that change you pull the meter. Someone is being warm at your expense. If they had been stealing them for copper they would have taken both of them. Since the meter is mostly aluminum it isn't worth a lot.
posted by ptm at 4:15 AM on January 30, 2009


I could very well be talking out of my arse here, but depending on meter design... I think that the missing link in a lot of places where electricity is shut off is a component or two in the meter, or the meter itself. I know that construction sites where the electrician has put up a pole and housing, and the electric company has stretched a wire to the poll, have an empty place where the meter goes until the city inspector signs off on it and the electric company can put the meter in place and turn things on.

Yep. There was just a story in the news about a fireman who stole the meter from a structure fire and used it to get free power for himself. Don't remember the details, but I imagine he switched the meters back and forth so the meter reader would see his meter when reading time came. After the meter is read, switch it back.

Sure, but the thieves don't know that.

I bet copper thieves do.
posted by gjc at 5:51 AM on January 30, 2009


I bet copper thieves do.

Seconded. After all, if you're going to try and steal a live electricity meter when you don't know what you're doing, the police tend to arrset you fairly quickly. Well... they try and handcuff your charred corpse anyway...
posted by twine42 at 6:13 AM on January 30, 2009


Thanks for all the answers! Though we'll probably never know for sure, I think the theory that someone stole it for their own electricity needs makes a lot of sense. (Especially since the neighbor's meter, right next to ours, wasn't touched.) That said, we're eagerly awaiting our apology pig!
posted by sarahmelah at 8:35 AM on January 31, 2009 [2 favorites]


The newest smart meters can tell if they've been carried or shaken since they were installed to avoid this tampering hack.
posted by Pants! at 3:53 PM on January 31, 2009


Also: in some areas, high crime areas, meters are tagged with gang signs to let you know not to steal THIS meter.
posted by Pants! at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2009


I don't suppose this applies to your meter, but they used to contain money. Be thankful you weren't subjected to noxious fumes!
posted by PhatLobley at 8:33 PM on January 31, 2009


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