7 On Your Side
Hunting down the 'juice jackers'
NEW YORK (WABC) -- It's called juice jacking - tapping into your electric box without you knowing it.
They get power and you get the bill. One Brooklyn restaurant manager found out that one of the country's largest broadband companies was doing it, but he needed help to bring these juice jackers to justice.
"How mad? We're in debt right now because of this," Roberto Ortiz said.
Ortiz says he feels powerless - literally.
For nearly 2 years, the manager of Pedro's Kitchen and Brew says his business has been ripped off for electricity they never used.
The first tip off - his ConEd bills. Normally the Mexican restaurant's monthly bill is in the hundreds, but more than a year ago they started spiking.
"Almost doubling and tripling," he said.
The problem - a 2nd electric box found by Roberto's electrician in the basement of the building where they rent.
"It's running directly into our system," he said.
They took a video, saying the line lead to the roof powering a group of 7 cell towers.
Roberto reported it to the police, the FDNY and the building's manager.
A rep for the landlord booted us off the roof. He wouldn't answer if he knew about the power splice or tell us who owned the towers. The logos are scratched off, but under a coat of spray paint we unearthed a clue.
Clearwire: one of the nation's largest broad band companies. When 7 On Your Side asked for an explanation, Clearwire admitted it had been using the restaurant's electricity since March 2011.
"Before you guys actually got involved they were stalling, blaming the landlord, the landlord was blaming them," Ortiz said.
He was told the technicians responsible for the hook up were fired.
Clearwire is negotiating with the restaurant, which is looking to get paid in the $30,000 range. Also, the NYPD is still investigating the case for theft and fraud allegations.
The big takeaways: watch your bills to see if they're much bigger than in previous years. This happens to homes too, and if you suspect someone's jacking your juice, document it and call your utility company right away to report it.
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