Published on December 6th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan69
Electric Car Owner Steals 4 Cents Worth Of Electricity & Is Jailed For 15 Hours, But That’s Not The Full Story
December 6th, 2013 by Zachary Shahan
Update January 2: Counter to what was presented by the police, Kaveh Kamooneh says that he was never previously told to stay off of the school tennis courts. It seems absurd that they would fabricate that history, but we have certainly seen more absurd things in this world. If Kamooneh is telling the truth and the police fabricated that history, then point #3 below is obviously irrelevant/wrong. It also seems that the police claim that Kamooneh was argumentative is completely up in the air, as Kamooneh denies the charge. Without any witness or recording, we cannot know for sure. Therefore, in this article below, perhaps #2 is also irrelevant, but I think it’s still a point or piece of advice well worth repeating. I have seen many people respond aggressively to police for no legitimate reason (and vice versa) — my point that we should be civil, especially when a police officer thinks we have done something wrong, seems like common sense, but it isn’t for some people. (Again, I have no idea how Kamooneh discussed the matter with the police officer — I only have two contradictory accounts from the two parties.)
But the key, take-home point from this story, imho, is still #1: most people don’t realize how much electricity an EV pulls when charging from a normal power outlet. I doubt most people even know that you can charge from a normal power outlet. We need much greater awareness about this. I think this story — which went viral on mainstream media — actually helped a great deal with that education. While I don’t think it was right — not in the least — that Kamooneh was put in jail for what isn’t even clearly a crime (I don’t think it is), his undesired sacrifice may have done a great deal to advance the EV revolution. Let’s hope so. However, one more time, if you’re an EV driver who wants to avoid such a sacrifice, the 3 points at the bottom of this article should help you to avoid that. 😉
You may have seen the initial news reports by now — a Georgia man reportedly plugged his electric car (Nissan Leaf) into an outlet at a local school for about 20 minutes — long enough to acquire about 4 cents worth of electricity according to a Georgia Power spokesman — and ended up being arrested & jailed for 15 hours because of it.
Initially, I decided to pass on covering the story, as I didn’t see how it would help anyone for me to cover it, but with a little nudging from a reader and some new information, I figured it was worth a quick write-up.
First of all, the rationale from the police officer for why the man was arrested and jailed was essentially that “stealing is stealing, and it’s against the law.” Something to consider before plugging in away from home. Of course, simply asking first if you can plug in can easily solve that problem, but if it’s say, Saturday, and no one is at the school where you are parked and want to plug in, does that mean you can’t use a few cents of electricity?
I think most humans, including police officers, would say that’s no problem — no one is going to arrest you for plugging your phone charger in somewhere like that. However, there are three important things to keep in mind:
- Most people simply don’t realize how cheap it is to charge an electric car from a normal outlet. The police officers, apparently making a wild guess, claimed that this Georgia man, Kaveh Kamooneh, stole $10 to $25 worth of electricity. As noted above, the total actually came to about 4 cents. But the important point in this case was that the police officers and representatives of the school didn’t seem to know this (or believe Kamooneh) before the expert opinion came in.
- Don’t give cops trouble. Kamooneh reportedly didn’t deal in a friendly way with the policeman who came to his car, and even tried to claim that the policeman damaged his car door. From the police statement: “The officer’s initial incident report gives a good indication of how difficult and argumentative the individual was to deal with. He made no attempt to apologize or simply say oops and he wouldn’t do it again. Instead he continued being argumentative, acknowledged he did not have permission and then accused the officer of having damaged his car door. The officer told him that was not true and that the vehicle and existing damage was already on his vehicles video camera from when he drove up.” [sic]
- Don’t take electricity from a property you’re not even supposed to be on. Rather importantly, Kamooneh was supposedly already told to stay off of the school’s property. “The report made its way to Sgt Ford’s desk for a follow up investigation. He contacted the middle school and inquired of several administrative personnel whether the individual had permission to use power. He was advised no. Sgt. Ford showed a photo to the school resource officer who recognized Mr. Kamooneh. Sgt Ford was further advised that Mr. Kamooneh had previously been advised he was not allowed on the school tennis courts without permission from the school. This was apparently due to his interfering with the use of the tennis courts previously during school hours.”
So, yes, one lesson is certainly to ask before charging your car from an outlet that isn’t yours, but other more important lessons are probably to stay off of property you’ve been told to stay off of, and to not give cops trouble when they approach you about something.
Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.
Own or lease an electric car? Complete out EV Owner/Lessee Survey.