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EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet 1010

Posted by Soulskill
from the charged-for-charging dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "It seems you can be arrested in Georgia for drawing 5 cents of electricity from a school's outdoor receptacle. Kaveh Kamooneh was charged with theft for plugging his Nissan Leaf into a Chamblee Middle School 110V outlet; the same outlet one could use to charge a laptop or cellphone. The Leaf draws 1KW/hour while charging which works out to under $0.10 of electricity per hour. Mr Kamooneh charged his Leaf for less than 30 minutes, which works out to about a nickel. Sgt. Ernesto Ford, the arresting officer, pointed out, 'theft is a theft,' which was his argument for arresting Mr. Kamooneh. Considering the cost of the infraction, it does not seem a reasonable decision when considering how much this will cost the state in legal funds. Does this mean anyone charging a laptop or cell phone will be charged with theft as well?"
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EV Owner Arrested Over 5 Cents Worth of Electricity From School's Outlet

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  • More than theft (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:14PM (#45598619)

    A kilowatt load on a circuit while not unusual is also non trivial. It's plausibly increase the risk of fire in an old wire system particularly one exposed to the outdoor elements. And it's enough to trip a breaker if some other kilowatt load is present. Further this assumes the car itself is working properly. Finally the car owner could be electrocuted or electrocute someone else if the outlet or car is mid misconfugured, exposing the school to risk.

    So he was wrong not to ask permission . The nickel is the least of the problens

  • Re:Water (Score:5, Informative)

    by lunchlady55 (471982) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:23PM (#45598783)

    If a stranger was using my outdoor hose / spigot without asking, I might have something to say about it.

  • Re:Math is math (Score:3, Informative)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:31PM (#45598953)

    Too much to expect from some people in charge.

    It is also too much to expect from journalists and Slashdot editors. 1KW/hr is a meaningless unit. It is clear from context that it is supposed to be just "1kw".


  • by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:34PM (#45599005)

    Theft of service is the specific crime, I believe. You can get charged with this for throwing trash in a dumpster that doesn't belong to you or you have permission to use.

  • by Xicor (2738029) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:57PM (#45599421)
    in texas, they cant even report a theft until it is over 5$.
  • Re:Theft (Score:4, Informative)

    by parkinglot777 (2563877) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:59PM (#45599467)

    If you read the TFA, you could find some more information even though this does not answer all of your questions but still give you some more perspective to the situation.

    Sgt. Ford says the officer should have arrested Kamooneh on the spot. But he didn't. Instead, the officer filed a police report. Then 11 days passed, and two deputies showed up at his house in Decatur.

    "They arrested me here at about eight o'clock at night," Kamooneh said.

    Ford said he sought the arrest warrant after determining that school officials hadn't given Kamooneh permission to plug in his car. Ford said Chamblee Police did so without asking school officials if they wanted to prosecute the alleged theft of electricity.

  • by nitehawk214 (222219) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:01PM (#45599503)

    Unlikely. There is no evidence that the cop saw the defendant before entering his car and preparing the paperwork to fine/arrest him.

    Absolutely false. All he has to do is type the license plate into the computer and it shows a picture of the owner, their details and outstanding warrants. An officer not doing this would not be doing his job and during a traffic stop would be putting himself in needless danger.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:03PM (#45599537)
    Through a fortunate coincidence, the number of hours in a year and the average cost of electricity in the U.S. ($0.12/kWh) means if a device is plugged in 24/7, the Watts it draws translates almost exactly into $ per year. Most laptops draw about 30 W while charging. A phone about 5 W. So if people were constantly using that outlet to charge their laptops and phones 24/7, the school or business would only pay $30 or $5 extra in a year. They may very well decide that's small enough they'll just pay it as a convenience to their visitors.

    1 kW to charge an EV is an entirely different matter (it's actually probably closer to 1.5 kW which is about the safe limit for most residential 110V 20A circuits; 1 kW is probably the battery's charge rate after thermal losses). Allowing your outlets to be used to to charge EVs would drive up your electric bill by hundreds of dollars a year per outlet to a max $1500. So it's perfectly reasonably for a school or business to prohibit visitors charging EVs on their dime.

    Or from the EV owner's perspective, if you can leech a 8 hours of electricity from your workplace and random stores and schools 5 days/week for a year, you'll have stolen about $350 worth of electricity by the end of the year. That's what this is about, not 5 cents. Saying it's about 5 cents is like saying a bank robber should go free because he was caught before he actually managed to steal any money.
  • Re:More than theft (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:10PM (#45599639)

    Did you get that out of your A$$, or thin air? You are quite incorrect.

    I'm a BSEE-toting master electrician.

    1) Commercial buildings, like that school, must have minimally 20 Amp minimally circuits- never 15.

    2) A 20 Amp breaker trips at 20 amps. 16 amps is the max continuous load current allowed (80%) but NOT the trip current.

    3) There certainly ARE 40 amp receptacles!! I've installed MANY! Go to your favorite hardware store and look for stove/dryer receptacles and you'll find them. There are several sizes and styles in 30, 40, and 50 amp range, including 3 and 4 prong (4 if neutral is needed - NEVER share ground with neutral!)

    And then you have twist-lock connectors which can go to hundreds of amps...

    Please don't write so authoritatively when you (obvious to me) don't know what you're talking about. You're misleading others who will easily believe you.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Informative)

    by tgd (2822) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:13PM (#45599683)

    I'm getting pretty tired of seeing extension cords snaking through parking lots and parking garages.

    I don't think the issue here is just five cents; some places can't handle the capacity this puts on their systems or wiring, or perhaps they don't want the liability of you screwing up your car thanks to faulty wiring, and suing you for it. And hell, what if some bright person uses a cord that's too light of a gauge for the current, and ends up starting a fire or hurting someone?

    Charging should be done where appropriate, not wherever anyone wants.

    Saying this as an owner of a car that gets plugged in, I totally agree. Stealing power is stealing power. Common sense says if you aren't paying the bill on that outlet, you ask whoever is paying for it before you plug in, you don't assume its okay.

    That's good for a couple of reasons. It avoids situations like this (and this isn't, by any means, the first time its happened), and it also gets the discussion about charging going... lots of places will tell you no problem. Places that don't may or may not have legitimate concerns about it. Considering how many times I've popped breakers with my charging cable, its entirely reasonable for places to say no. This isn't plugging in a cell phone charger, its plugging in a device that nearly maxes out a typical residential circuit.

    The thing that is stupid about this article isn't that the police considered it theft (it absolutely, unequivocally is), but rather that the police arrested someone for the theft of something worth so little. I could *almost* see a justification if the guy was arrested on the spot because the officer didn't know the electricity was worth so little, but after a few days of "investigation", it should've been obvious that the amount falls well below the lower limit of what people are arrested for where theft is concerned.

    IMO, the guy who plugged is car in is the jackass in this -- its because of people like him that people who actually *ask* run into problems.

  • by McGruber (1417641) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:20PM (#45599817)

    Chamblee Middle School ( is part of the Dekalb County (Georgia) School System. DCSS is the most fucked-up school district in the USA. The former Superintendent was arrested for theft by taking, the replacement Superintendent abandoned her job and the current Superintendent is a political hack who lacks the qualifications required to hold a teacher's license. The former COO was just found guilty of racketeering. The DCSS school board was removed by the state Governor and the school system is currently on "Accredited Probation", the only school system in the country with that status.

    Some recent news coverage of Dekalb County School System:

    Court upholds law used to suspend DeKalb school board members: []

    Ex-DeKalb school official found guilty of racketeering: []

    DeKalb teacher accused of beating special needs elementary student with stick: []

    School superintendent negotiates settlement in expensive legal battle: []

    DeKalb Schools placed on probation: []

    DeKalb’s graduation rate under the new state formula: 58.65% (Meaning that 42% of Dekalb Students DO NOT GRADUATE!) []

  • Re:More than theft (Score:4, Informative)

    by sjames (1099) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:23PM (#45599887) Homepage

    No, the outlet should be fine at 9 amps. If it can't handle that safely, they are in violation of code.

    For reference, the EV was drawing 1 KW. A hair dryer or a sopace heater draws 1.5KW.

    So it's really down to 5 cents worth of electricity.

  • Re:More than theft (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spoke (6112) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:30PM (#45599987)

    Actually, a 15A breaker may or may not trip at 15.1A. There is quite a bit of fudge room in the spec. You can pull quite a bit more than 15A on a 15A breaker for a short period of time.

    Google for "Circuit Breaker Characteristic Trip Curves" for what may or may not trip a breaker.

    Some interesting facts:

    It is possible to pull between 95-115% of the rated current of a breaker basically indefinitely without it ever tripping.
    It is possible to pull 150-240% of the rated current of a breaker for 60 seconds before it trips.
    It is possible to pull 300-600% of the rated current of a breaker for 10 seconds before it trips.
    It is possible to pull 900-2000% of the rated current of a breaker for 1 second before it trips.

  • Re:More than theft (Score:4, Informative)

    by Minwee (522556) <> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:36PM (#45600097) Homepage

    Finally the car owner could be electrocuted or electrocute someone else if the outlet or car is misconfigured, exposing the school to risk.

    If the school was so badly wired that plugging in to an outlet could cause that kind of damage then someone is exposing everyone in that school to an awful lot of risk, and it's not Kaveh Kamooneh.

  • by Minwee (522556) <> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @05:26PM (#45601007) Homepage

    Unlikely. There is no evidence that the cop saw the defendant before entering his car and preparing the paperwork to fine/arrest him.

    You might want to read about what happened. There's a convenient link near the top of this page. There's even an original source linked from there [], if you want to hear the story from the people involved.

    Kaveh Kamooneh parked his car, left, and shortly after that an officer came by to search his vehicle. When Kamooneh returned to the vehicle the officer confronted him, informed him that he should be charged with theft by taking, and then left to file a police report.

    A week and a half later Sergeant Ernesto Ford, who was not the same officer, got an arrest warrant and sent two deputies to Kamooneh's home at 8 PM, a time which conveniently meant that Kamooneh could be booked and placed in a cell, but unable to be released until fifteen hours later.

    Are you trying to tell me that in the eleven days between the original police report being filed and Sgt. Ford preparing the paperwork to send Georgia's Finest around to put him in jail, that he didn't have tje time to look at the name "Kaveh Kamooneh" and compare it to "John Smith"? Even in Georgia it doesn't take that long to sound out the letters and figure out what they say.

    Considering the wonderfully tolerant history of small-town Georgia, where people of all origins and colours are universally welcomed with open arms and considered part of the family by one and all, it's more likely that some members of the Chamblee police department simply don't like electric cars, but there is always the small possibility that one unusual American just might dislike people of Iranian descent and be looking for an excuse to act on that.

    Stranger things have happened.

  • Re:More than theft (Score:3, Informative)

    by odie5533 (989896) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:25PM (#45601995)
    Are you sure the wire gauge he's using is capable of safely delivering 40 A? You can't just upgrade a breaker and get more electricity. Not safely at least.
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @06:35PM (#45602169)

    No, a breaker doesn't immediately trip at 0.1A over. Not even close.

    And you say there are 40A outlets? No kidding. I would think you'd know the names NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 (stove/dryer outlets). This article isn't about NEMA 14s or 6s or the rare 5-50., it's about regular NEMA 5 household outlets ("standard 115v nominal household (NEMA 5-15p) plug is rated for 15 amps").

    Please tell me your name so I can know I'm not having you wire my house.

  • Re:More than theft (Score:4, Informative)

    by msauve (701917) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @07:22PM (#45602781)
    "There certainly ARE 40 amp receptacles!! I've installed MANY!"

    There's NEMA 5-30, 5-50, 6-30, 6-50, 10-30, 10-50, etc. Where do I find a NEMA x-40? I won't limit you to naming a favorite hardware store - name anywhere on the Internet.

Save a little money each month and at the end of the year you'll be surprised at how little you have. -- Ernest Haskins