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Crime Power Transportation

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

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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  • Henchman (Score:4, Funny)

    by DudeTheMath ( 522264 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:02PM (#45598403) Homepage

    He's obviously in the pocket of Big Oil.

  • by houstonbofh ( 602064 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:03PM (#45598419)
    In most states, Theft under $5 is just a ticket... Theft under 5 cents is a PR nightmare. :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:08PM (#45598503)

      In most states, Theft under $5 is just a ticket...

      Citation needed

    • by ackthpt ( 218170 )

      In most states, Theft under $5 is just a ticket... Theft under 5 cents is a PR nightmare. :)

      Yeah, because nothing gets the attention of the news like someone stealing a nickel's worth of something, while people are all around stealing much more, defacing public/private buildings, driving 15 mph over the speed limit by the thousands, etc. Y'know, ordinary every day, acceptable crime.

    • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:27PM (#45601051)

      But theft above one billion entitles you to a government bailout and "free from jail" card.

      Stealing bucks is for losers!

    • by jxander ( 2605655 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @04:50PM (#45601467)

      Theft may be theft ... but is this theft?? And I don't even care about the ridiculously low monetary value

      IANAL, and I certainly haven't read through the EULA and TOS associated with the wall plug in question ... but it sounds like something provided by the school for students and teachers to use on their personal electronics. Which is exactly what he was doing.

      Seems more like stuffing your pockets full of "free samples." A bit tacky, maybe a wrist-slappable offense, but certainly not theft.

      You (i.e. the school and/or cops) don't get to retroactively go back and say "We meant any personal electronics EXCEPT cars! Yeah, so you're in violation, arrest him"

  • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:04PM (#45598431)

    from Ars:

    "A short time later, he noticed someone in his car and went to investigate—and found that the man was a Chamblee police officer. "

    So, cops just randomly enter other people's cars? I know I used to always lock mine if I wasn't in it.

    • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:15PM (#45598633) Homepage
      Sounds like an illegal search to me. Personally I would have called 911 and reported that there was someone in my vehicle who should be there. This way had it been someone dangerous the cops would be the ones dealing with it and in this case there would have been an audio recording of the event probably with the 911 dispatcher mentioning that the cop is who is in their car.
      • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:29PM (#45598905)

        not illegal to enter a vehicle being used in the commission of a crime in progress

        yes this stealing of elecricity was wrong and illegal, electric vehicle owners have no right to plug in whereever they find an outlet.

        • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:34PM (#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 Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:43PM (#45600207) Homepage

          not illegal to enter a vehicle being used in the commission of a crime in progress

          yes this stealing of elecricity was wrong and illegal, electric vehicle owners have no right to plug in whereever they find an outlet.

          Gasoline powered cars produce exhaust which contains noticeable amounts of poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Clearly the driver of any vehicle putting such dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere (Where children might inhale them. Won't somebody please think of them?) is committing attempted murder which is wrong and illegal, so that makes just about any car in the country fair game.

      • by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:05PM (#45599569)

        IANAL but as I believe (as others have pointed out) it's not illegal for a police officer to enter a vehicle being used in the commission of a crime (at least in all the US municipalities I'm familiar with). However, that said, the more I think about it the more I believe you've just touched on the REAL reason for the absurd $0.05 theft of service charge. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the cop is using that as a way to legalize what would otherwise have been an illegal fishing expedition searching through the guy's car for more serious contraband. If he didn't charge the guy with SOMETHING, he risks becoming the criminal.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:18PM (#45598693)

      What I see is someone poking around a car... Guy walks up gets mad. Turns out guy poking around is cop. Yelling match ensues. Guy arrested for whatever the cop can think of.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:09PM (#45598511)

    He has virtually zero risk in such an arrest.

    He enhances his standing, knows he'll get a conviction and won't face a drunken driver or armed robber. Easy hit for his weekly arrest and ticket actions.

  • This sounds racist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jharish ( 101858 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:09PM (#45598521)

    I bet if the "suspect" was named "John Smith" and white he might not have been arrested.

    I'm surprised that didn't make it into the summary.

  • by Wdomburg ( 141264 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:10PM (#45598537)

    I suspect it is about establishing precedent and combating the idea that EV owners are entitled to "free" power, not about recovering costs in this specific incident.

    • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:25PM (#45598841)

      I agree with the arrest, you don't get to plug in your car or arc welder into someone else's outlet

      • by cbeaudry ( 706335 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:40PM (#45599117)

        I think a stern warning or a ticket makes more sense.

        People who say someone should be arrested for something as mundane this, even if he should not have done it, haven't never been arrested before.

        No matter WHAT the reason, you are treated as a dirty murdering rapist while in the cell by the LEO's.

        There is no universe in which this arrest makes any sense. (A ticket... of course).

    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:03PM (#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.
  • Water (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dimwit ( 36756 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:10PM (#45598549)

    If he filled up his thermos with water from the bathroom sink, would that be theft as well?

  • Theft of services (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:11PM (#45598559)

    Does this mean anyone charging a laptop or cell phone will be charged with theft as well?

    Yes, they certainly will. [newser.com]

  • by lagomorpha2 ( 1376475 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:12PM (#45598567)

    There is a type of resistance to authority, whose name escapes me at the moment, in which the person protesting follows every rule down to the most mundane detail as a way to stop productivity. It's hard to punish people for because they aren't actually breaking any rules, they're following ALL of them. Maybe the cop was protesting against the massively defective legal system by being this pedantic?

    Nah, he was probably just taking out his frustration on one of them tree huggers. But a man can dream.

    • "Work to rule" is how I've heard it referenced in the past. Follow every rule exactly as it is written and watch the people who wrote them (or enforce them) squirm.

      I agree with you, though, that this is probably not a case of that.

  • A theft is a theft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guibaby ( 192136 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:15PM (#45598637)

    But there should be a certain amount of common sense when enforcing the law. First did the school complain? If the school did not complain, did the officer ask the school if there was an issue? If there was an issue, I am sure the officer or the school could have approached the man and asked him to stop using their plug. They could even post a sign saying "please do not use our plugs to charge your devices." All of this would have been cheaper, more effective and infinitely less hostile than arresting the guy.

  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:17PM (#45598659)

    Okay. So WE all know it was just $0.05 after the fact, but put yourself in the place of the cop. Someone has a 1+ ton electrical machine plugged into an outlet. Just how much energy is being taken? Without knowing the power, the cop has no idea.

    To the cop or average person, the electrical cord is analogous to a siphon.

    Anyone caught siphoning gas from a government car into their own car is going to be arrested. This looks like the same thing to the cop.

    • The judgement of the responding officer was to file a report. Sensible enough. The arrest happened a week later.

      RTFA. This opinion is not applicable.

    • The office made a report and charged him 11 days later.

      I think he had ample time to determine what the current draw was in his "investigation".

      Also, if the guy was there 20 mins or 4 hours, it still doesn't amount to 1$.

      His son goes to soccer practice there, I have a very hard time imagining that the school asked to press charges.
      And if the school did, I wonder who is more evil in this case, the officer or the school.

  • by Al Dunsmuir ( 758685 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:31PM (#45598945)
    In colder parts of Canada, there are outlets provided in parking lots so that drivers can plug in their electric battery/block heaters.f - It kind of ruins your day to not be able to start your car because the oil has gotten too thick. I would not be surprised if the same faculties are available in Western US states and Minnesota. My thoughts on seeing the title was that good-ol' quote from Cool Hand Luke. - Whut we have heah is a failure to communicate.
  • by Ultracrepidarian ( 576183 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:41PM (#45599129)

    I would award treble damages.

  • by trailerparkcassanova ( 469342 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @02:48PM (#45599259)
    then a dime. Pretty soon you're talking about real money!!!
  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @03:20PM (#45599817)

    Chamblee Middle School (http://www.chambleems.dekalb.k12.ga.us/) 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: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/court-upholds-law-used-to-suspend-dekalb-school-bo/nb4Cx/ [ajc.com]

    Ex-DeKalb school official found guilty of racketeering: http://www.11alive.com/news/article/313666/40/Verdict-reached-in-DeKalb-corruption-trial [11alive.com]

    DeKalb teacher accused of beating special needs elementary student with stick: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-teacher-accused-beating-special-needs-eleme/nb26M/ [wsbtv.com]

    School superintendent negotiates settlement in expensive legal battle: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/school-superintendent-negotiates-settlement-in-exp/nb89X/ [ajc.com]

    DeKalb Schools placed on probation: http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dekalb-schools-placed-probation/nTYSp/ [wsbtv.com]

    DeKalb’s graduation rate under the new state formula: 58.65% (Meaning that 42% of Dekalb Students DO NOT GRADUATE!) http://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/dekalbs-graduation-rate-under-the-new-state-formula-58-65/ [wordpress.com]

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