ComEd last week issued a reminder about the public safety risks associated with stealing electricity, an illegal activity that led to the arrest and conviction of a Wilmington, Illinois, man who was charged with violation of the Illinois Public Utility Act.

The individual, who had been bypassing the company's electric meter and stealing electricity at his residence, was arrested July 14 after ComEd's Revenue Protection department registered a complaint with law enforcement authorities. The man, whose service had been suspended for non-payment, was convicted during an appearance last week in Will County Circuit Court.

ComEd's Security Department alerted law enforcement authorities after receiving an anonymous tip that the man was stealing electricity. In addition to criminal prosecution, ComEd plans to seek restitution from the man, who was fined $250. The company estimates the individual's theft amounted to about $4,300 in electricity and delivery charges.

"Energy theft is a tremendous cost for utility companies across the United States," said Chuck Walls, vice president, Customer Financial Operations, ComEd. "Not only is energy theft illegal it is also a safety threat - to those who tamper with electric utility equipment, to the general public and to utility workers who can be injured or killed by hazards left behind by the culprit. ComEd will continue to work with law enforcement authorities to prosecute energy thieves to the fullest extent of the law and hopefully deter others from committing this illegal and unsafe act."

In a similar case, a Chicago man entered a guilty plea Aug. 25 in Cook County Circuit Court on a charge of violating the Illinois Public Utility Act. He was arrested after a police officer observed him tampering with a meter on a building on Chicago's West Side. The man, whose service had been suspended for non-payment, owes ComEd more than $13,000 for previous accounts and other charges.

"This condition put the occupant's home at risk, as well as other homes along the block," said Paul Unruh, manager, Revenue Investigations, ComEd, whose department investigates reports of meter tampering, illegal electric connections and related acts.