Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC) uses many different pieces of equipment to bring safe, reliable electric service to homes and businesses. Electric meters are utilized to accurately measure the amount of electricity used, and they are property of the Cooperative. Member-owners should never risk tampering with a meter for any reason.
“The most important thing to always consider with electricity is the safety aspect, and this kind of activity has a high level of danger associated with it,” SVEC President and CEO Michael Hastings said.
Additionally, those attempting to tamper with a meter could end up costing the other Cooperative members money. “In the process of trying to divert electricity, there is the potential to damage equipment, which ends up costing not only the person doing it, but other members as well,” Hastings said.
Tampering with the meter is not only very dangerous and costly, but also against the law, according to Section 18.2-163 of the Code of Virginia.
Law enforcement officials from throughout the Cooperative’s service territory also advise residents to never risk tampering with meters.
“The Sheriff’s Office takes any illegal act very seriously,” Rockingham County Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson said. “Meter tampering is fraud. It is a serious crime and it will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Shenandoah County Sheriff Tim Carter said: “It is against the law to tamper with a meter. Also, the risk of personal injury is high when a person tries to alter a meter.”
Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland said the dangers of meter tampering can impact a number of people.
“Stealing electricity is a serious issue for the utility companies, the public, and the responding personnel,” he said. “It could result in serious injury. As a law enforcement agency, we ask if anyone knows of this activity to give us a call and let us know, as it may save someone’s life.”
Winchester Police Chief John Piper wants the public to realize how serious, in addition to dangerous, the act can be.
“Tampering with a metering device is a theft. Virginia code classifies it as a Class 1 misdemeanor, which could result in a jail sentence,” he said. “The Winchester Police Department supports and will pursue charges with Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative for individuals committing meter tampering due to the impact it has on our economy and, most importantly, public safety.”
In addition to warning of the dangers of the crime, Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith advises people who perform the illegal act for financial reasons to understand they have alternative solutions available.
“If it is a matter of not being able to pay for service, assistance is available through Social Services,” he said.
Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage said his agency will address meter tampering complaints immediately and work with the Commonwealth’s Attorney to prosecute those involved.
Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative asks that if you see any suspicious activity regarding meter tampering, the theft of electricity, or if you just have a question regarding the readings of your meter, please call the Cooperative at 1-800-234-7832 and a representative will be happy to assist you.