‘Power couple’ arrested

Published 12:02 am Saturday, June 22, 2013

Thanks to the vigilance of a “meter reader,” an Opp husband and wife were jailed Thursday for allegedly stealing not only, electricity, but also a utility meter.

Opp Police Chief Mike McDonald said Paul Martin Chase, 40, and his 35-year-old wife Alicia Kay are charged with theft of property III (utility diversion) and two counts of tampering. Mrs. Chase was also charged with receiving stolen property III and theft of services III.

Stacey Parker, general manager of Opp Utilities, explained how the two were caught.

“We use a wireless meter reading system,” Parker said. “When the radio wouldn’t pickup the reading, our meter reader had to get out and check it out. She noticed that the meter was gone. Stolen.

“The Chases had been disconnected for non-payment over the Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “The house next to them was vacant. So they cut the meter seal on their meter, got the meter from the house next door and plugged it in. They tried to fix the meter seal so it wouldn’t appear to have been tampered with. Mrs. Chase claimed her son had shot it with his BB gun when she was questioned.”

It was an unlikely story, the meter reader thought, and she filed a complaint with the police department, Parker said.

McDonald said Mrs. Chase led investigators to the family’s discarded meter, which was tossed out on a roadside and wrapped in a T-shirt.

“I want to remind all citizens that the theft of electricity and cable services is monitored and detected by not only the Opp Utilities Department, but also by other service providers, as well as law enforcement agencies,” he said. “Please understand that the offenders will be prosecuted and that conviction may result in both monetary fines, but also restitution and incarceration.”