Ohio power, natural gas and water thefts up

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio utilities report that the lean economic times have been accompanied by more thefts of electricity, natural gas and water.

Columbus-based American Electric Power has seen about a 30 percent increase during the past year, according to spokeswoman Terri Flora. And she says that covers only the people who stole power and got caught.

AEP investigator Joe Rutherford says tampering with equipment in order to rip off the electric company can be dangerous, even deadly. Meanwhile, Columbia Gas of Ohio says billing to recover money from gas thieves is up 71 percent this year.

And, the public utilities department in Columbus reports there have been 754 investigations for suspected illegal water use so far in 2008, compared to 760 during all of last year.

Information from: The Columbus Dispatch

Source: Associated Press