Bhandup-based industrialist duped electricity body using remote-controlled device to rig factory's meter
Power thieves in the city have started using high-end technology to cut down bills making it difficult for the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MSEDC) to pin the blame on culprits.
In a recent case of meter tampering caught at the Bhandup industrial area, a factory owner was arrested for allegedly switching off the electricity meter with an advanced remote control, and stealing 30,000 electricity units that cost Rs 2.71 lakh.
A high frequency jammer can be used to switch an electricity meter off and on without physically touching it
The accused, Vishwas Kadam, owner of Vishwas Enterprises in Bhandup East has been charged under the Electricity Act (2003), which makes stealing power or meter tampering a crime. An FIR was lodged against him on November 12 at Kalyan police station and he has been billed for his illegal unit consumption.
A meter is tampered with so it calculates a low power reading, leading to a lower electricity bill. But it has to be physically tampered with, at least in the old analog meters. But Vishwas Kadam, owner of Vishwas Enterprises in Bhandup East, used something called a high frequency jammer to rig the digital meter in his factory.
"We have a meter reading instrument (MRI) wherein a meter can store six months of data within its memory which can be retrieved later from the device. We discovered that the power supply for the factory was being shown switched off despite the power being supplied to it from our systems," said an MSEDC official.
Officials say that what also raised their suspicion was when they first paid a regular visit to check the meters in late August. "We found the meter switched off and thought that it might have a technical defect.
We removed it and replaced it with a new meter on September 8 and sent the older one to the manufacturing company. But the company told us that the meter was in good shape. They then suggested the possible use of some sort of a remote device," an official said.
Three officials made a second visit on November 12 and the new meter was again found switched off. "While we were retrieving the data, the owner arrived and the meter automatically switched on. That confirmed our suspicion that he was using a high frequency jammer," said the official. Kadam used to switch off the meter using the remote every fortnight for four to five days and then again switch it on.
Officials, however, say that they haven't yet found the remote and Kadam has not admitted to using one. The only evidence they have are records showing the meter being switched off and the number of units consumed that have gone unrecorded in the meter. "He will obviously not part with the remote," the official said.
The number of electricity units that the man stole