PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--After a year-long investigation, Philadelphia police arrested a North Philadelphia man this week for allegedly stealing electricity over an extended period of time and risking a catastrophe.

PECO identified a property in the 300 block of West Milne Street without an active utility account, but illegally connected to PECO power lines and bypassing the utility meter. This week Philadelphia police executed a search warrant at the property and arrested Robert Callo, one of three adults who were occupants of the residence. Police continue to pursue the other two occupants as suspects.

Mary Ludford, PECO vice president, customer operations, praised the city’s major crimes unit, 39th district officers, and the utility’s internal investigators for their collaborative efforts leading to the arrest. Surveillance captured repeated “makeshift” connections to PECO’s energized line in the rear of the house, even after PECO removed hazardous taps on numerous occasions.

“A number of people within PECO and the city police worked together effectively to stop this illegal and dangerous tampering with PECO’s facilities. We’re very thankful to the city for its cooperation. Police were receptive and supportive of our desire to prosecute this case,” said Ludford.

“This case is just one example of a serious problem for PECO and utilities everywhere,” said Ludford. “It’s not only lost revenue but exceptionally dangerous to the offenders and their neighbors.”

Individuals ran a wire from the aerial utility line inside a window of the house, down into the basement, and connected to the home’s electrical panel, bypassing the utility meter. When the arrest was made, the wiretap was pulled off PECO’s line by the occupant causing an instantaneous electric arc or flash.

“This condition put the home occupants at risk, as well as homes all along the block,” said Harry Sheneman, PECO meter services manager, whose group investigates reports of suspected meter tampering, illegal electric connections, and related offenses a year. In addition to criminal prosecution, PECO will seek lost revenue for electric consumption, as well as reconnection and theft of service fees.

PECO urges anyone who finds suspicious activity that poses safety hazards to the public to contact the company’s hotline at 1-866-414-1854. Tips to the hotline can be made anonymously.

PECO also reminds customers that help is available including energy-saving information, payment options, and assistance programs. PECO’s customer service line is 1-800-494-4000. PECO customers also can visit for energy-saving information for help managing utility costs.

Based in Philadelphia, PECO is an electric and natural gas utility subsidiary of Exelon Corporation (NYSE: EXC). PECO serves 1.6 million electric and 485,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania and employs about 2,400 people in the region. PECO delivered 83.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 39.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2008. Founded in 1881, PECO is one of the Greater Philadelphia Region's most active corporate citizens, providing leadership, volunteer and financial support to numerous arts and culture, education, environmental, economic development and community programs and organizations.

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