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a. To outline the policy and procedures relating to the prevention, detection, investigation, and prosecution of power theft. The specific objectives of the policy are to:


1. Prevent customers from engaging in power theft.

2. Detect customers who are stealing power.

3. Recover revenues from customers caught stealing.

4. Request criminal prosecution of customers.

5. Pursue customers for the amount of loss and other appropriate charges through the civil courts when needed, and to take all reasonable action to collect the amount of loss plus costs and appropriate sanctions as provided for below associated therewith.

6. Protect the general public from such unsafe activities as are involved tampering with and misappropriation of electric power.


b. The primary objective of the policy is the detection of power theft and the recovery of revenues, and the investigation, deterrence of such activities and punishment of the crime of theft of electricity.


c. The Cooperative, in pursuing these goals is also concerned about issues of public safety raised by such illegal and unsafe activities.



a. Person- An individual, firm, partnership, corporation, unincorporated association, or other legal or business entity or the executor, administrator, trustee, receiver, assignee, or personal representative thereof.

b. Cooperative- The legal distributor of electric utility service in the defined service area.

c. Meter- The device, including attachments, used to monitor the amount of electricity provided by the Cooperative and received by the customer.

d. Theft of Electricity- Any knowing or purposeful unauthorized exertion of control over electricity, or attempt, by whatever means or scheme to accomplish such control over same.

e. Bypassing- any act, using any means, the purpose of which is to obtain utility service without having such service pass through the authorized meter provided for measuring or registering such service.

f. Tampering- Damaging, altering, adjusting, or in any manner interfering with or obstructing the operation or function of any authorized metering device for measuring or registering utility service.



a. The Cooperative recognized that the theft of utility services is:

1. A crime punishable by law.

2. A contributing factor to higher utility rates.

3. A dangerous practice that can result in property damage and/or loss of life.

b. The Cooperative is committed to combating this problem using every available means and to recovering lost revenues when a theft is detected.

c. The Cooperative further acknowledges that offenders and others who blatantly engage in power theft should be referred to the Cooperative attorney for civil action and to the proper authorities for investigation and for appropriate criminal prosecution.

d. Prevention- The Cooperative will take the necessary steps to insure that the integrity of the distribution system is maintained and that all meters are properly sealed or locked.

e. Detection- Cooperative employees will be trained to detect possible cases of power theft while they are performing their normal duties.

1. Indications of theft. If an employee witnesses an indication of a theft such as a broken seal, he will report the condition to his supervisor and resume his normal duties unless directed otherwise.

2. Obvious theft. If the employee witnesses an obvious theft such as the meter inverted in the socket, he will notify the dispatcher or his supervisor and remain near the scene where he can observe the situation until the investigator arrives. All contact with the customer at the location will be avoided.

3. Dangerous situation. If the obvious theft includes a dangerous situation such as an open meter face, use of jumpers, etc. the employee will notify the dispatcher or supervisor and return to the location of the meter until the investigator arrives. All other persons will be warned that a dangerous condition exists and they are not to approach the meter. If the customer attempts to approach the meter, the employee will explain that a dangerous situation exists but will not attempt to physically restrain the customer.

4. Data processing. The billing department of the Cooperative will issue a monthly list of customers using one-third less electricity than for the same billing period the previous year.


f. Investigation- Investigations will be conducted by employees and, when appropriate, local law enforcement officials. All investigations will be conducted in a legal manner and the rights of the customer shall be respected at all times. Other departments and employees according to the needs of the investigation will support the investigator.

g. Prosecution- all cases of theft of electricity or power diversion shall be referred to the appropriate investigative and prosecutorial agencies for such action as they deem appropriate under the circumstances. All Cooperative personnel shall cooperate in any investigations and prosecutions initiated by those agencies. Referral of theft of electricity or power diversion cases for prosecution is solely for the purpose of prosecuting the crime involved and not for collection of the monetary loss to the Cooperative.

h. Penalty- A $500 penalty will be collected from any member found to be tampering with a meter, diverting power, or theft of power.

i. Rewards- The General Manager may at his discretion pay a cash reward, to persons that report a confirmed case of meter tampering, power diversion, or theft of electric service.

j. Collection- The Cooperative shall take all reasonable steps, including if necessary and appropriate, the filing of a civil lawsuit, if warranted, to obtain reimbursement from the offending consumer for all loss of revenue and all costs associated therewith occasioned by the consumer’s theft of electricity or power diversion. The total amount of these costs will be charged to any existing account of the member responsible for the power theft. Such collection efforts shall be irrespective of the decision of any prosecutorial agency to criminally prosecute or not prosecute the offending consumer.




Browning Office
PO Box 609
Browning, MT 59417

Office Hours
Monday thru Friday 8:00am - 5:00pm
Toll Free 1-800-347-6795

Cut Bank Office
410 E. Main Street
Cut Bank, MT 59427