Electricity Thefts Rising With Temperatures

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – When neighbors called Dallas police to report two people stealing copper wire from Martha Cruz’s Oak Cliff home, it was all a mix-up.  But little did Cruz expect she’d be taken to jail.

It all began when police questioned Cruz about her electrical meter. “He said ‘What about this meter?’ I said ‘What about it?’ He said ‘Why is it different than the neighbors?’ I said ‘I didn’t know.'”

When police called Oncor, the company determined Cruz’s power had been shut-off more than two years ago. Around the same time, Oncor told police another meter had been reported stolen.

Oncor believed Cruz was stealing electricity, so police arrested the mother of four for criminal mischief and tampering with an electrical meter. “It’s not something I’m proud of.  I was in need because I was going through a struggle financially,” Cruz admits.

In the blistering heat wave currently hitting North Texas, stealing electricity is a big problem, and could cost everyone.

Oncor reports so far in 2011 they’ve had 9,000 electrical thefts, roughly worth $2.6 million in losses. An Oncor spokeswoman says one of their biggest concerns is that when people steal electrical meters, they could start a fire, and worse, electrocute themselves.

As for Cruz, she says she was trying to workout a payment plan with Oncor. “Struggling mother has to do what she has to do to get her kids either out of the heat or a warm place.”

Now, she faces a state jail felony which carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison.

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One Comment

  1. Kathleen Mccarthy says:

    i hate to see the mother go to jail,seems better thing would be probabtion,and paying electric back,jail would do the children no good,if she is a good mother!

    1. RR Worker says:

      Just the act of stealing electricity in the plain sight of her children makes her a bad mother. Bad parents teach their kids either through their actions or lack of action that it’s OK to steal things.

      1. Miles says:

        Well I would say this aslo if I had never been in this situation. I am 50 years old and never been down and out untill the last year. I have resorted to jumping connecting the electric myself in order to give my family electric. I have a wife and three kids and cant get a job due to a ticket i overlooked and now i can not get a drivers lin to get a job, i even asked the judge to let me do time and they said no. So I have tried all the legal ways to work and suooly and even lived in a shelter why my family lived somewhere else. I got electric and they my wife and kids do not know anything except they have a/c and heating etc….

    2. 2sister says:

      I have compassion for her predicament, but that doesn’t excuse what she did. It is never right to steal or take what doesn’t belong to you.

  2. rd says:

    her parenting status should have nothing to do with whether she goes to jail or not. a crime is a crime. a good mother would not act in a criminal manner.

    1. mp says:

      then lock up txu

      1. rubbercow says:

        Feel free to start your own power company.

  3. Actual says:

    Besides… they have programs and vouchers for low-income / poor people that will pay for electricity. Our entitled society doesnt just let people NOT have electricity. But the gov wont send someone to your house and fill out the forms for you.

    On the other hand… if you are getting a voucher or some kind of financial assistance that is supposed to go toward your utility bill…and you’ve cross-wired the meter to get free power anyway??? Jail for sure. That is just being a scammer and a thief, and those kids will learn those same tricks.

    1. Jovina says:

      Haven’t you read that the good Texas state Legislature is stealing the financial assistance funds to the tune of over $100 MILLION.

    2. LL says:

      The government collected the money to help pay for the electricity for people who are unable to pay their bill, but decided that it needed that money to balance the budget. There is no money available to help those in need. It is wrong to steal, but what would you do to protect your children if they were starving and there was a big produce company next door that was charging triple what the produce was worth? Just sayin………

      1. rubbercow says:

        This woman was obviously not in need. Her house appears to be pretty nice and she certainly is not wanting for calories. Stealing for two years? Your attitude is exactly what is wrong with our society!

    3. Miles says:

      yea and they will not assist becasue we use pre paid electric – i made 6 figure income for years and cant get assistance – i paid taxees and – im was not asking but for a little help – with 1500.00 i would be self suffectiant again – but since they wont even let me serve time to elliminate my traffic tickets so i can renew my linc. i am resorting to what i can do – again i am 50 and have no place to turn – i was the one in my family and circle that had the money to loan – and due to a job collaspe and a wrong turn i am so low – that i have had to eat at the same shelters i used to do voluntere work at –

    4. -miles says:

      well they would not assist us becasue we used a pre paid electric – is it so hard to open your eyes and realize people are trying to survive and yes its against the law – but so is letting my kids die from heat

  4. TravlnTxn says:

    10 to 1 she’s illegal.

    1. james says:

      and 10 to 1, you’re racists!

      1. RR Worker says:

        10 to 1 you’re an idiot. There is nothing racist about saying someone is illegal, especially if they are.

      2. 2sister says:

        He may or may not be racist, but TravlinTxn is assuming that she is illegal based on her surname. There are people with Hispanic surnames and of Hispanic heritage who are not here illegally.

  5. marie bridgeport says:

    Wish I could get two years of free electricity. My family suffers too. But we have to pay our bills or TXU will CUT YOU OFF!. They have NO conscience. They know 109 temps people need it. I have COPD and CHF. But I dont steal.I suck it up and pay it. But TXU could care less. They won’t give us a break. Gonna Change companies.

  6. R Cason says:

    I wonder if she pays her cell phone bill?

    1. wmi says:

      well – i cant pay mine – so mabe she does not pay her cell phone – but it is easy for us to be critical of her situation and pass judgemetn

  7. Hemroidious says:

    I wonder what else she steals? Jail time for her.

    1. Kramer K. Kramer says:

      I bet she steals beans and burrito coverings.

  8. Renee says:

    Two years without paying DOES NOT SOUND LIKE SHE WAS TRYING TO WORK THINGS OUT…. she got the stolen meter, got free electricity and then just felt comfortable stealing it.
    She said she was going thru hard times financially…. but TWO years is a long time to struggle… by then you make it or you have to take drastic measures… like moving in with a relative…… but NOT steal a meter and get free electricity.

  9. mr. bigg says:

    Travln Txn, James, and RR Worker, Seems to me and orthers just by listening to the interview she is totally not a illegal.
    So you guys say give her jail time and let the theives in our Texas Stae Legislature run free with stealing our hard earn money. Go figure.
    I think you three have to much time seeing reruns of Earl and Randy on TV.

    1. Echelon says:

      Never mind the thieves at Oncor.

    2. 2sister says:

      I don’t like how greedy some companies are, but that doesn’t excuse stealing from them. Two wrongs don’t make a right. It also isn’t right to steal just because someone else does or because someone else (Texas State Legislature) uses the money for something other than it’s intended purpose. Don’t get me wrong, that was dishonest of the state legislature, but that doesn’t excuse what she did.

  10. Chuck says:

    If the police noticed something wrong about the meter, wonder why the meter reader in 10 years never noticed anything.

    Being poor does not give you a license to steal.

    1. Chuckc says:

      10 years typo, in 2 years

  11. connie says:

    omg, txu is just evil, i dont get how a meter can be stolen in the first place you mean you can just go to someones house and pull off a meter? and call txu to your house to do what,,?? they cut off my lights with a handy capp child in the house??/go figure, that is why texas has more electric companies than most states. and txu is ruder than ever, cause they cant suck the money out of us they use to, i left them long time ago and will never go back… i feel bad for this lady, she stole electricity cause she needed it an couldnt afford it , and some of these resource services dragg their feet on getting you help. so thats no remedy for a mother of kids and the elderly my elderly neightbor had her light turned off last year in the same hot ass tempurtures, texas being as hot as it is you would think the texas legislator would make these dam companies lower in the winter, im just makeing a point.

  12. joey Mison says:

    Stealing is stealing, but people gotta do what people gotta do, plain and simple.


  13. pamcfall58 says:

    Two years is a long time to wait to I”work it out” with TXU. I would come a lot closer to understanding if it had been a few months vs. TWO YEARS! Yes, we pay a lot more for electricity than we should have to but it doesn ‘t appear she tried very hard to work through channels for assistance.

  14. branwren says:

    Shame on her, shame on her, shame on her. I struggled as a single mother to rear my children as well. I went without so that they could have. I paid my 3-400.00 light bills. It was tough to see a full quarter of your income going to one utility, but I paid it. I hocked my jewelry and anything else I had of value at times. There are other ways besides stealing. Many churches will help IF you let them know you have a need. don’t tell me you can’t afford it if you have a cell phone, satellite or cable TV or a car that’s not at least 10 years old. Here’s what I perceive as the problem. I have gone for more than a week without food and passed out on the streets of Houston because of it. Most today have no idea what it is to really be in need and suffer. They believe if they want or need something they have a God given right to it any way they can get it. Poor morals instilled by poor parental guidance.

  15. rd says:

    The commenters I see who are paying such high amounts, have you tried average billing? My usage amounts in the summer are well over $200, but I pay between $100-125 year round because I have average billing. I do realize that your bills may be higher than mine because I am in a 1 bedroom apartment, but even so, you won’t have those big ups and downs in your billing and you can budget it easier. It isn’t productive to whine and complain about the high bills because you have to have it anyway, so just do what you can to make it easier to pay.

  16. jerry says:

    rd , your bill is too high..txu is ripping u off on 1bedroom apt.

  17. jerry says:

    What is racist ? by call people illegal. By the way she stealing for 2 yrs. I could see 2 month. She need to find the babies dad and get some money. or get on the pills . If you can not afford to provide more then one kids…Pls stop have kids. I am tired of paying to feed your kids and school them too. WAKE UP AMERICA!!
    I dont feel sorry othese people, Easy fix is dont have so many kids.

  18. RK says:

    She expected the police to stop people when she thought her copper was being stolen, why would she think her theft would be overlooked?

    1. RK says:

      Also nobody has mentioned the people she stole the meter from. You know they were out of electricity for a couple of days before Oncor was able to get out and replace it. Oh well as long as she is comfortable…….right!

  19. rd says:

    jerry, I don’t think I’m being ripped off. My per-kwh hour charge is not high. You must realize that in the summer I keep my apt around 65 degrees. And I am on the second floor. When it’s in the 100’s , it takes a lot of work to keep the place that cool. But as long as I can afford the bill, I am going to keep it that cool. I make up for it in the winter when I keep it about the same temperature, and my bills are about $40-50. The bills are averaged every month for the previous 12 months, so it comes out to $100-120 a month. I’d rather pay 100 for a month that it is actually 50 than pay the actual 225 in the summer. It’s just easier to budget that way.

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