I just read an interesting story. A man in Chamblee, GA, has an electric car (this is a car that runs, of course, on electricity). This car needed to be plugged into an outlet to get power from electricity. According to published reports, this man drove up to Chamblee Middle School and charged his car up to an “outside” electrical outlet. They say that the amount of electricity he took was the “full” equivalent of “5 cents” worth. Amazingly, ten days later the sheriffs came to him and “arrested” him for “stealing electricity.” Their take on all of this was that “no matter how much was taken, theft is still theft, and against the law.” Technically (and legally), they are “correct.” However, if someone plugs his cell phone up to an outlet, their chances of getting arrested are not that prominent. If that is the case, then should this gentleman be arrested for stealing 5 cents worth of electricity? Let’s look at the facts. Normally, someone who wants to charge up a phone probably wouldn’t have done it outside. If they had done it inside and no one from the school facility had questioned or stopped them then I guess you could say that “by law” they had “consent” to do so. However, if they charged their phones up outside the facility with no one watching then should that make a difference? Sometimes the difference between theft and gift is the actual “knowledge” of the action committed. If the owners of the property know about you taking the electricity and do nothing to stop you then by law that could be considered “consent.” When I took a law class in college, I was shocked to learn that if someone comes to your house and cuts the lawn without your approval, but you see them do it and say nothing, then that worker is legally entitled to expect money from you. If that is indeed the law, then that “could” explain the concept of consent in this case. Also we need to keep in mind that the principle of “cars that run on electricity” is somewhat new. Cell phones are small gadgets that “don’t appear” to use much electricity, while with something bigger like a car it is easier to “assume” that the amount of electricity being taken is “huge.” What this all boils down to is that we are often prone to “judge” those things that we don’t quite “understand.” I sincerely hope that the judge in this case allows the man to pay the school the “5 cents” for the electricity he took and allow this case to have a happy ending. As for the man himself, I hope he comes to realize that you can’t take liberties with things without consent. While this man should not be arrested for 5 cents worth of electricity, he should have known better than to use power from a source that was not his to begin with. Stay tuned, and hopefully we can monitor the end result of this case. In the meantime, I hope that everyone reading this has a “great and awesome” day.
Soul singer Frankie Beverly and Brett Jolly in concert