The Watcher


FINALLY!!

Here is DEFINITE proof that the Internet can be used as a tool for Revenue Protection!!

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Here is the News Group Post that started it all:


Blinker

Dunno about the US, but in UK we have meters inside houses
(older houses anway) - just go under the floorboards and
splice a wire onto the main line before the meter!
MIND YOUR FINGERS!!!

**************************************
Peter Hucker (p.m.hucker@dundee.ac.uk)
+44 01382 370352

Blinker

Electronic Telegraph

London, England


A STING operation is helping British power companies to catch electricity thieves who use the Internet to boast of their exploits. The power thieves, who are reckoned to steal more than 350 million worth of electricity every year, may soon find an inspector calling, armed with a meter reader and print-outs from Internet discussion groups.

Scottish Hydro-Electric, based in Perth, is the first British power company to sign on to a pioneering anti-theft initiative launched by the International Utilities Revenue Protection Agency in America. IURPA agents send queries to Usenet discussion groups asking for advice on stealing power and tampering with line meters. They then forward the names of respondents to their local power companies.

Dozens of power thieves who sent replies have already been prosecuted in America by power companies who discovered magnets attached to meters, underground cables connected to local mains and, of particular interest to the Drug Enforcement Agency, number of professional herbalists using bootleg power to light their crops.

Scottish Hydro-Electric received its first tip-off from the scheme earlier this year, after attending a conference attended by IURPA delegates. "We had heard what they were up to, and it all sounded very American to us. Then one of their delegates said 'We just found a guy in your area - he even gave us his phone number'," a spokesman said.

"We don't know how many people we might catch this way but power theft is a serious problem and we're going to take any advantage offered to us." Scottish Hydro-Electric traced more than 1,600 cases of power theft last year, reporting 395 customers to the Procurator Fiscal.

And two English regional suppliers have expressed their interest in joining the scheme, which serves power companies around the world. IURPA has received tips from power thieves in Asia, Scandinavia and Africa - wherever the Internet has gained a foothold.

The Office of Electricity Regulation says 3,920 people in Britain had been disconnected in the year to last September for theft. Another 50,000 cases are thought to be discovered by power companies every year.

Recent cases of power theft discovered by British inspectors included customers tunnelling out to roadside mains cables and splicing into the supply; a garage taking its night-time power supply from the nearest lamp post; and domestic customers drilling holes into meter boxes and attempting to stop the counter wheels from turning.

According to a Scottish Hydro-Electric spokesman, these are among the most dangerous of money-saving schemes. "Playing around with your supply is a great way to end up in the morgue. These are high voltages being diverted in very unsafe ways."

But the prize for most innovative power theft scheme must go to an American with a high-voltage line close to his house. He wound half a mile of copper cable a round his garage, creating a giant induction coil capable of powering most of his home appliances.

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