abstracting electricity

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The offence, punishable with up to five years' imprisonment and/or a fine, of dishonestly using, wasting, or diverting electricity. This offence may be committed by someone who bypasses his electricity meter or reconnects a disconnected meter or who unlawfully obtains a free telephone call (though there is a more specific and potentially less serious offence to deal with this). Bypassing a gas or water meter could constitute theft of the gas or water. In Low v Blease [1975] Crim LR 513 it was held that electricity could not be stolen as it is not property within the meaning of section 4 of the Theft Act 1968. Computer hackers were formerly charged with offences of abstracting electricity until the Computer Misuse Act 1990 made hacking a specific criminal offence.

Subjects: Law.

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