The power was cut at the pole to prevent anyone from getting hurt. Tampering with a meter is a crime. It's a misdemeanor. The person who lives at the home where the stolen meter was discovered will be given a notice to appear before a judge.

In a second tampering case, a woman denied stealing power from the meter outside the mobile home where she lives on the Southside. She could not explain how the meter box was severely damaged. 

A lock that had been put on it to prevent further tampering had been pried off. A man who works in the area told us he saw an extension cord running from the mobile home to a neighbor's trailer.  

"I cut the cord in about five pieces," said Mick McDonald. 

Neighbors stealing from neighbors happens more often than you might think. 

"We've had several reports where people have been away, or out of town, away for the weekend and they come back and they have no power to their house," said Edwards.

SIGNS OF TAMPERING

Hanging wires from the electric pole or meter

Lids not secure on meter can

Meters upside down/turned sideways

Jumper cables in can or hanging from power lines

Cut seal around the meter

Colored tab under meter is cut

Wires going into the attic

IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO PAY YOUR BILL

JEA investigators said cutting power to users who are stealing is necessary.

"When a person's stealing, they're actually stealing from the community so when one person is going through and not paying for anything what does that mean? We're going to have to try to make up those differences," he said. "Essentially we all have to do our part here if we're using something we all have to pay for it."

JEA works all the time with customers who cannot afford to pay their bills. But you have to call them; you can't just ignore past due bills. They will typically call you, and they also send you a notice in the mail, warning you about an overdue payment.

DOCUMENT: List of local agencies that help customers pay utility bills

JEA also offers a program called My Budget that divides your monthly payment into 12 equal parts, so you pay the same amount each month. It is calculated by taking an average of your previous year's bills. To learn more, call JEA: 904-665-6000.