Police: Illegal electric hookups found

July 7, 2009 3:25:46 PM PDT
Workers from PECO and the Philadelphia police were called out to investigate illegal electrical hookups in the Nicetown-Tioga section of Philadelphia.Hooking up unauthorized electric wires is not only dangerous it's illegal. But that isn't stopping some from taking the risk.

Armed with a search warrant PECO and police discovered 11 of the 26 houses on the 3900 block of Pricilla Street in Philadelphia's Nicetown section had illegal power hookups, using dangerously thin, undersized wires.

"Running extension cords, low voltage wires into house feeding one house into another could cause a large fire," said Lt. Ed Zachwieja.

In 2007 an illegal hookup sparked a blaze that killed a mother and her four children in West Philadelphia.

Last March an illegal connection was blamed for a fire that killed a mother and child.

PECO says there was evidence that a small jumper wire was used at one of the Priscilla houses that was overheating and showing evidence of electrical arcing.

"We already noticed arcing of the wires at the meter board," said Mike Wood of PECO.

Authorities think the 11 hookups were the work of one person, a fixer. That's someone who goes door to door taking money to make illegal hookups.

Most of the neighbors were relieved by PECO's mass disconnections Tuesday.

But not everyone was critical of those stealing power. One woman, who did not give her name, says in the past she has relied on illegal hookups. She argues it's safer than candles.

Tuesday's action on Priscilla Street was prompted by a pair of tip calls to a PECO hotline, 1-866-414-1854.

If you suspect an illegal hookup PECO is urging you to call that number.

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