Man charged with stealing electricity

MOORE COUNTY According to Sheriff Lane Carter, on March 17, deputies assisted the Department of Social Services with investigating a complaint about the safety of three juveniles.

During that investigation, deputies discovered that the electric service to the house had been altered.

On March 19, investigators arrested 39-year-old Robert James Tharp of Aberdeen. He is charged with obtaining property by false pretense and interfering with a utility meter.

According to USA Today, the economy is causing Americans to resort to hazardous practices like stealing electricity.

Utility companies say energy theft has risen greatly during the failing economy. Residential customers, whose electricity is turned off when they fall behind on their bills, and small businesses that struggle to stay open are the likeliest offenders.

A power company that serves Michigan, Indiana and Ohio says it has investigated 3,196 cases of theft. Those states have also experienced massive layoffs.

Utility companies say they learn about electricity theft from meter readers, neighbors or abnormal use patterns.

Tharp is scheduled to appear in court on April 1. The three juveniles, who were involved in the original call to authorities, were found safe.

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