A retired contractor could face jail time after the discovery that when his home was built in the late 1970s, he purposely concealed overhead electricity lines. He also installed underground ‘cheater’ lines that diverted water from his water meter, so the meter did not react when the sprinkler system was turned on.

Officials at DTE Energy estimate that over the years the culprit ‘saved’ some $45,000 on his electricity bill, and even more than that on his water account. The theft was discovered as the result of an anonymous phone call, and if found guilty the contractor faces up to eight years in prison. DTE Energy is one of many utilities with an energy theft hotline number where suspicious circumstances can be reported.