If you are caught stealing from a retail store, you will likely be arrested or issued a notice to appear. If the stolen property is valued at $300 or more, you will be arrested for grand theft in Jacksonville. If the value of the property is less than $300, the charge is petit theft in Jacksonville. While retail theft is a more popular example, you may also be arrested for theft if you steal from your employer. This is known as employee theft. I have also seen Jacksonville juvenile criminal cases in which a child was arrested for stealing from a fellow student in school.
Another example of theft is stealing utilities. Apparently, this happens a lot in Jacksonville. Channel 4 News reported:
“JEA has investigators who respond to 6,000-7,000 cases of meter tampering every year. Every house, apartment and business has an electrical meter that tracks how much electricity is consumed each day. JEA has the ability to monitor these meters remotely. A few meters still need to be read by a JEA worker. If a meter, which is the globe that fits into the box, is removed from the meter can, JEA immediately knows. Investigators are then sent to the location of that meter to determine if someone has been illegally tampering with it to consume power illegally.”
If these people are turned over to the police or the state attorney’s office, they could be charged under Florida’s theft law. Florida Statute 812.14 prohibits stealing electricity, cable, and other utility services. It states:
(1) As used in this section, “utility” includes any person, firm, corporation, association, or political subdivision, whether private, municipal, county, or cooperative, which is engaged in the sale, generation, provision, or delivery of gas, electricity, heat, water, oil, sewer service, telephone service, telegraph service, radio service, or telecommunication service.
(2) It is unlawful to:
(a) Willfully alter, tamper with, injure, or knowingly suffer to be injured any meter, meter seal, pipe, conduit, wire, line, cable, transformer, amplifier, or other apparatus or device belonging to a utility line service in such a manner as to cause loss or damage or to prevent any meter installed for registering electricity, gas, or water from registering the quantity which otherwise would pass through the same; to alter the index or break the seal of any such meter; in any way to hinder or interfere with the proper action or just registration of any such meter or device; or knowingly to use, waste, or suffer the waste, by any means, of electricity or gas or water passing through any such meter, wire, pipe, or fitting, or other appliance or appurtenance connected with or belonging to any such utility, after such meter, wire, pipe or fitting, or other appliance or appurtenance has been tampered with, injured, or altered.
(b) Make or cause to be made any connection with any wire, main, service pipe or other pipes, appliance, or appurtenance in such manner as to use, without the consent of the utility, any service or any electricity, gas, or water, or to cause to be supplied any service or electricity, gas, or water from a utility to any person, firm, or corporation or any lamp, burner, orifice, faucet, or other outlet whatsoever, without such service being reported for payment or such electricity, gas, or water passing through a meter provided by the utility and used for measuring and registering the quantity of electricity, gas, or water passing through the same.
(c) Use or receive the direct benefit from the use of a utility knowing, or under such circumstances as would induce a reasonable person to believe, that such direct benefits have resulted from any tampering with, altering of, or injury to any connection, wire, conductor, meter, pipe, conduit, line, cable, transformer, amplifier, or other apparatus or device owned, operated, or controlled by such utility, for the purpose of avoiding payment.
(3) The presence on property in the actual possession of a person of any device or alteration that affects the diversion or use of the services of a utility so as to avoid the registration of such use by or on a meter installed by the utility or so as to otherwise avoid the reporting of use of such service for payment is prima facie evidence of the violation of this section by such person; however, this presumption does not apply unless:
(a) The presence of such a device or alteration can be attributed only to a deliberate act in furtherance of an intent to avoid payment for utility services;
(b) The person charged has received the direct benefit of the reduction of the cost of such utility services; and
(c) The customer or recipient of the utility services has received the direct benefit of such utility service for at least one full billing cycle.
(4) A person who willfully violates paragraph (2)(a), paragraph (2)(b), or paragraph (2)(c) commits theft, punishable as provided in s. 812.014.