Residents complain over costa electricity ‘pirates’

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Following on from recent reports highlighting the number of electricity ‘pirates’ there are on the Costas, the EWN has been informed of yet another scheme, EWN’s Heidi Wardman reports.

Graham Smith* from Tury III, Aguas Nuevas, said he is shocked by the alleged unlawful activities of a neighbour, who it seems is giving electricity supply company Iberdrola a run for its money.

This is the second incident of “electricity borrowing” in the vicinity, which has left other home owners wondering why on earth they bother to do things by the book.

Graham explained that a few years ago the neighbour concerned, along with her partner, erected a wooden shed in front of their apartment, which they proceeded to open up as a bar.

Graham complained that the property owner does not pay for her electricity as she contacted Iberdrola and instructed them to remove her meter in June 2010.

Shortly after them doing so, Graham claims they allegedly broke the lock on the electric box and joined the wires together, reconnecting their supply. He said that “They never even bothered to replace the broken lock, so the doors constantly bang open in the wind, or attempt to pull the plastic coating back over the wires which are just left bare and posing a huge risk to the children living on the urbanization. I shudder to think what might happen if they started messing around with them!”

Graham said that both the President and the Administrators of the urbanization have telephoned Iberdrola on several occasions to report the incident, but no-one would come out to inspect it.

On September 13 this year an Iberdrola technician went to the property to investigate the allegations, and Graham took him to inspect the electric box.

The technician installed a meter on the wires to measure the power, and a look of sheer horror crossed his face, Graham said.

He took several photos then immediately disconnected the wires, put all the covers back and secured the meter box before putting a sticker across the front instructing people not to tamper with it.

He also allegedly posted a letter to the homeowner informing her of his visit.

Graham hoped that would be the end to the problem.

Later that day when the alleged perpetrator went to open up the bar, and found that there was no electricity, the wires were reconnected again.

Graham explained how another neighbour saw what was happening and immediately informed him of their dealings, which he took it upon himself to investigate.

He described how he witnessed the homeowner and another man “messing” with the wires in a bid to reconnect the electricity.

“I spoke to the man,” he said, “and informed him that what he was doing was totally illegal, but he continued on, blatantly ignoring me! So I then threatened to call the Police, at which point he abruptly collected his tools and left!”

Approximately one hour later, Graham reports that the electricity bandits were back at the box again! The homeowner had seemingly recruited another man to do the “dirty work”, who was busy joining the wires together.

This time, Graham’s threats and warnings that he was breaking the law seemed to fall upon deaf ears, although he discovered that the man had returned later that night to disconnect his handy work.

Instead, as a temporary measure, the homeowner ran a cable from one of her friend’s houses to the bar to supply their power, and then the same handyman appeared at the electric box again a few days later, and “fitted” a makeshift meter, which was completely different to those for the 80 apartments in the block.

Graham said “I don’t know if it is common practice for people to come and install their own electric meters, or if it is merely an attempt to shut me up. However, the homeowner responsible seems to have set a trend, as there is now another resident who has followed her example, broken the lock on his meter box to join the wires together and is also now claiming free electricity!”

“I do not know what, if anything, can be done about this because nobody seems bothered about it!” he said.

“It took us over three months to convince Iberdrola to come out and investigate and in the meantime the danger to kids living on our urbanization is apparent to everyone. It really is appalling!”

The EWN contacted Graham Knight of the International Residents Office, and Monchi, Press Officer for Torrevieja Town Hall, to see if they could offer any advice on what the Town Hall planned to do to rectify the problem, but neither party could offer any information and said they were not familiar with the complaint.

We also visited the property to speak to the owner about the allegations, but she was not home at the time.

Las Palmeras

Meanwhile, in nearby Urbanization Las Palmeras, Los Altos, residents are fighting a similar battle with a homeowner.

Resident Mike Forest* explained that there are 210 properties on the estate, and that while the majority are hardworking, respectable people, one Spanish resident is intent on disturbing the peace.

“As a result of non-payment of his bills, he had his electricity supply cut off 7 years ago” Mike said.

“Thank goodness he has such generous neighbours to provide for him!” explaining how the alleged electricity bandit has developed a smart way of “borrowing” power from each of his neighbours.

Mike described how the man has been clever enough to acquire his supply from several different households, so that the homeowners do not notice an obvious discrepancy in their bills. Mike said “It is very clear that he is continuously stealing our electricity and nobody wants to take appropriate action against him,” adding that “There are about six to eight owners in the block, none of who live in Spain permanently, but from the Iberdrola bills it would appear that they do! When I was away in my home country the consumption was €80. Evidence that it is being used by someone else!”

Mike complained that no-one in authority appears to be interested in helping them with the problem.

He claims the President of the urbanization has made several telephone calls to the Police, who came out to investigate and saw first-hand the lighting and air-conditioning unit being operated at the property which on paper does not have an electricity supply. However, they left without taking action, saying that they do not have right of entry to prove the wire-tapping.

Mike concluded that “It is completely unbelievable. Iberdrola do not seem to care, nor do the Police. So who does? And who can help us to put a stop to this bandit once and for all?”

EWN spoke to the President of the Urbanization, Archie Burner, who confirmed that what Mike had said.

“This man has been claiming free electricity for all of these years and we could do nothing,” said Burner.

“Both Iberdrola and the Police are aware of the situation and still he is the winner of the case, continuing to steal in front of the eyes of all the people and official offices”.

“It is this kind of behavior and corruption which has forced many foreign residents back to their homelands,” he said.

“The law in Spain is based on relationships not Law and Order. Unfortunately, I have come to a point where I don’t know what else I can do to stop this man, and my loss continues to be his gain.”

Contact Heidi: [email protected] or call 679 921 422

*Names have been changed to protect their identity

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