An Atlanta man has been arrested and charged with theft after he plugged in his Nissan Leaf electric vehicle at a school and used about 5 cents worth of electricity.
The incident happened on a Saturday in November, when Kaveh Kamooneh went to Chamblee Middle School to pick up his son from a tennis game. While he was waiting for his son to finish the game, he plugged his Leaf into one of the school’s external outlets for a few minutes.
He said he’d done the same thing many times before, never leaving it plugged in for more than a few minutes.
Unbeknownst to him, a “concerned citizen” saw him plug in the vehicle and called 911.
When a Georgia police officer arrived and told him he was going to charge him, Kamooneh thought he was joking.
“He said he was going to charge me with theft … because I was taking power, electricity from the school,” Kamooneh, a former university professor who now works as an investment advisor, told reporters at NBC News. “I’m waiting for them to arrest water drinkers and cell phone chargers.” Kamooneh was ordered to unplug his car, which he did.
But for some reason which hasn’t been made clear, the police then waited 11 days to actually arrest him. He was taken from his home to the police station, where he was held for 15 hours before being fingerprinted and released on $150 bail.
Police justify enforcing the 5 cent loss with a much costlier arrest and overnight stay in jail by saying that plugging in the car without permission was theft, even though it was Saturday and there was nobody to ask.
“He broke the law. He stole something that wasn’t his,” Chamblee Police Sgt. E nesto Ford told WXIA News. “A theft is a theft.”
Kamooneh said he intends to fight the charge in court in February.