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Men arrested in electricity, water theft

Glendale Water & Power crews noticed reduced usage, then found altered meters.

May 03, 2011|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Two men were arrested Tuesday on charges that they stole more than $10,000 worth of water and power at two homes, officials said.

[Corrected version. See below for details.]

Glendale police arrested the men — Boris Nazaryan, 46, and Gagik Aslanian, 55 — on warrants issued as a result of the theft charges, Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

“Utility theft, unfortunately, is a common issue for any utility company throughout California,” he said.

Glendale Water & Power crews became suspicious of activity at two Verdugo Woodlands-area homes when they noticed electricity and water use had been drastically reduced, officials said.

Crews began investigating the reductions and discovered that Nazaryan allegedly altered meters to steal more than $3,300 in utilities at his home in the 1800 block of Lockwood Road, police said.

The same utility reductions were seen at Aslanian's home in the 2900 block of Marcia Road, police said.

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Crews reported that a meter socket had been rewired to prevent one of the wires from keeping track of electricity use. More than $6,900 worth of utilities was stolen at the home, police said.

Once investigators discovered tampering, police removed the meters for forensic examination.

Although the reductions in utility use were logged at least two years ago, officials did not indicate the length of the investigation.

Glendale Water & Power spokeswoman Atineh Haroutunian said officials had been investigating the homes for a while because they wanted to make sure they had proof of tampering.

“You have to see a pattern in their usage,” she said.

The utility tacked on $4,708 in combined fees and penalties for the alleged thefts.

People often steal utilities to avoid payments or set up an illegal business for criminal enterprises, including marijuana grow sites and methamphetamine labs, Lorenz said.

Utility officials said the installation of smart meters would allow for better theft detection.

Nazaryan and Asvanian did not have smart meters installed on their properties.

With the new meters, Glendale Water & Power will be immediately alerted if a meter has been tampered with, Haroutunian said.

The utility has identified 150 customers who in the past two years have tampered with meters or stolen services, Haroutunian said.

The investigations resulted in a recovery of $42,000 in unpaid bills, she added.

“It does affect everybody, not just one customer,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated two men had been arrested on suspicion of theft of power and gas, not power and water.

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