Opinion: E-theft

POSTED: 02/8/13 1:38 PM

Yesterday, two brothers were in court because they had manipulated the electricity meter of their supermarket with wonderful results: their electricity bill dropped by a third.

The scam was made possible by a disgruntled former employee of utilities company Gebe who offers his services to people who want to, let’s say, battle the rising cost of living. The brothers made a success of it: the bill dropped from 2,500 to 1,700 guilders – giving them 800 guilders to play with.

Nobody got hurt, or so they thought. But the brother who did the books was not the only one to notice that the supermarket suddenly had achieved remarkable energy savings. They got caught and they went to court.

The finer legal points of the case are not the issue here. The attorney for the brothers thought that it was not at all that bad to steal from Gebe because our utilities company lets its clients down on a regular basis as well.

As an attempt to make light of a case of power-theft the remark went down well. But really: stealing remains stealing. Maybe some people will argue that this will serve Gebe right – and maybe it does. But it does not change the fact that the brothers let themselves in with a self-enrichment scheme. One brother organized it by hiring the services of the former Gebe-employee, the other did nothing after he discovered what was going on.

How bad is it? The prosecution is demanding a 1-year suspended prison sentence against the brothers and they have to do quite some hours of community service. The court will rule on the case on February 27. Then we’ll know how bad this really is.

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