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Electric car owner arrested after plugging in

6:25 AM, Dec 4, 2013   |    comments
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CHAMBLEE, Ga. - One Saturday in November, Kaveh Kamooneh drove his Nissan Leaf to Chamblee Middle School, where his 11-year-old son was playing tennis.

Kamooneh had taken the liberty of charging the electric car with an exterior outlet at the school. Within minutes of plugging in the car, he says a Chamblee police officer appeared.

"He said that he was going to charge me with theft by taking because I was taking power, electricity from the school," Kamooneh said.

Kamooneh says he had charged his car for 20 minutes, drawing about a nickel's worth of juice. Don Francis of Clean Cities Atlanta, an electric vehicle advocacy group, says the estimate of 5 cents is accurate.

"I'm not sure how much electricity he stole," said Chamblee police Sergeant Ernesto Ford, but he added: It doesn't matter. "He broke the law. He stole something that wasn't his."

Sgt. Ford says the officer should have arrested Kamooneh on the spot. But he didn't. Instead, the officer filed a police report. Then 11 days passed, and two deputies showed up at his house in Decatur.

"They arrested me here at about eight o'clock at night," Kamooneh said.

Ford said he sought the arrest warrant after determining that school officials hadn't given Kamooneh permission to plug in his car. Ford said Chamblee Police did so without asking school officials if they wanted to prosecute the alleged theft of electricity. A DeKalb Schools spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.

Records show Kamooneh spent more than 15 hours in the DeKalb County Jail for plugging his car into a school's electrical outlet.

Kamooneh acknowledges he hadn't asked permission first. "When I got there, there was nobody there. It was a Saturday morning," he said.

"A theft is a theft," Sgt. Ford said. When asked if he'd make the arrest again, he answered: "Absolutely."

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