When Dallas police officers approach a suspected drug den, they check for telltale signs of another crime: electricity theft, reports the Dallas Morning News. It could be a nail jammed into an upside-down electric meter, preventing electricity consumption from registering with the utility company. Or copper from car jumper cables used to bypass a meter. Or the occupant can simply string an improvised wire from an electric pole to the house.
“Almost every drug house we go to, the electric box has been tampered with and they’re stealing electricity,” said Dallas Sgt. Bill Griffith. Nationwide, the utility industry estimates that electricity theft costs upward of $6 billion each year, or about 1 to 3 percent of the industry’s revenues, a number that experts called conservative.