Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office, Florida Power & Light Company announce arrests in theft, racketeering case

Twelve suspects charged with stealing 65,000 feet of power line from the utility since 2014

Nov 03, 2015, 15:42 ET from Florida Power & Light Company

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Nov. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), along with the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office, today announced the arrest of 12 suspects who stole a total of 65,000 feet of underground power line cable from the utility beginning in February 2014 and as recently as October 2015. Those arrested, including employees at two local scrap dealers, were charged in a scheme to profit from the stolen cable.

"FPL takes allegations of theft extremely seriously, and as such, we vigorously pursue, by any and all legal means necessary, actions against anyone who would steal or attempt to steal from the company, whether it's the theft of electricity or equipment, said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. "When thieves steal from the company they are in effect stealing from our customers by raising the costs of doing business, for which everyone eventually pays. I want to thank State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle and all law enforcement who worked aggressively alongside FPL's Corporate Security team to bring these brazen thieves to justice."

The arrests culminate months of investigation that began when an FPL employee spotted suspicious activity, suspecting that newly installed power line cables were being stolen. That report launched an in-depth investigation by FPL security that was then expanded to include the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office.

"The thieves' actions put our community at potential risk during hurricanes and other pressures on the electric grid," said Katherine Fernandez Rundle, Miami-Dade County state attorney. "FPL has been incredibly supportive in trying to put together a complicated case. They have been exceptional partners to work with."

The 12 suspects, all from Miami-Dade County, were arrested this morning on numerous charges, including racketeering, grand theft, dealing in stolen property and burglary. While most of the thefts took place in Miami-Dade County, the suspects are charged with thefts that occurred in Broward and Volusia counties, as well.

This sophisticated ring of thieves bought and painted identical vehicles as those used by their employer, dressed in their uniforms and then worked at night to steal cable they had previously installed. They would close off streets and appear as if they were replacing power line cable, which provides electric service from substations to FPL residential and business customers, when in fact, they were stealing and selling it at two local scrap yards that were part of the criminal ring.

"Safety is a top priority for our company," Silagy said. "These individuals put not only themselves but our customers and employees in danger by stealing FPL-installed equipment. Our employees work hard to protect the company and its customers from any type of fraud, theft or scam. This case is a terrific example of how vigilant and dedicated employees, our close partnerships with law enforcement and our commitment to protecting the electric grid are working."

Customers can call the number on their FPL bill or 800-528-6621 and anonymously report any suspected criminal activity involving FPL equipment.

Florida Power & Light Company

Florida Power & Light Company is the third-largest electric utility in the United States, serving approximately 4.8 million customer accounts across nearly half of the state of Florida. FPL's typical 1,000-kWh residential customer bill is approximately 30 percent lower than the latest national average and, in 2014, was the lowest in Florida among reporting utilities for the fifth year in a row. FPL's service reliability is better than 99.98 percent, and its highly fuel-efficient power plant fleet is one of the cleanest among all utilities nationwide. The company was recognized in 2015 as one of the most trusted U.S. electric utilities by Market Strategies International. A leading Florida employer with approximately 8,700 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a clean energy company widely recognized for its efforts in sustainability, ethics and diversity, including being ranked in the top 10 worldwide for innovativeness and community responsibility as part of Fortune's 2015 list of "World's Most Admired Companies." NextEra Energy is also the parent company of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which, together with its affiliated entities, is the world's largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. For more information, visit these websites: www.NextEraEnergy.com, www.FPL.com, www.NextEraEnergyResources.com.

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SOURCE Florida Power & Light Company



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