Meter tampering increases in January and February

The presents have been opened and the food is gone " and come January some may be hoping they had spent a little less during the holiday season.

Looking for a couple bucks in savings is one possible reason that electric, water and septic tank meter tampering is at its highest in the months of January and February in Brownsville.

However, Public Utilities Board officials said breaking this a small seal is a very serious crime.

"It's considered a theft of service, theft of utilities, so it is a crime, Ernesto Garrido, PUB communications director said. The second you break that seal, it's considered meter tampering and our customers need to be aware that electrical meters are the property of PUB."

Garrido said PUB employees are trained to recognize when a meter has been tampered with.

He said once this has happened, it only takes a matter of time before police get involved. It's also a crime that could cause serious injury and even death.

"The electric meter, well it can obviously lead to electrocution, it's extremely dangerous to tamper with an electric meter, Garrido said. Second, it could lead to fires, home fires or explosions."

Tampering with water meters and septic tank meters can be especially dangerous.

"You do not want to have waste water overflowing in your street, Garrido said. That is incredibly hazardous very toxic and very dangerous to the home owners and to the environment."

To discourage the practice of this crime, PUB workers conduct street sweeps, where they randomly inspections meters in any given neighborhood.

Also, one neighbor's attempt to save a couple bucks, could end up hurting other people's pockets.

"The utility services have to be accounted and paid for, so eventually everyone ends up paying for that theft," Garrido said.

Garrido said the biggest expense in utilities during winter comes from heating, and it's best to be proactive to help reduce bill.

"We recommend that (people) set your heating system to 68 degrees," he said.