Stealing electricity and natural gas is dangerous and it is also against the law. It is illegal to tamper with electric or natural gas service, or reconnect it. Energy theft can take several forms – meter or equipment tampering, copper theft and identity theft. Knowingly using electric or natural gas energy service that is not correctly metered or while not having a legitimate account with DTE Energy is stealing. DTE Energy monitors suspicious accounts and conducts visual investigations of its meters and service lines at homes and businesses.
DTE Energy’s equipment, including meters, pipes and wires are designed and installed by trained professionals. Tampering with this equipment exposes you, your family and your neighbors to the risk of electric shock, fire, explosion, injury or even death.
Energy Theft is a safety issue
To minimize the risk of property damage, injury or death, DTE Energy has adopted a zero tolerance policy. This means that anyone caught stealing energy may be prosecuted, In Michigan, energy theft is a crime and can result in fines and /or jail time.
Energy Theft Legislation
Michigan has a number of laws to address theft of electricity and natural gas. These laws penalize individuals who steal, sell or transfer energy illegally. They also make it a felony to assault a public utility worker while he or she is performing his or her duties.
Below are the key items of the State Bills:
State Bill 1310
- Holds landlords accountable for utility charges when theft has occurred on their property
- Landlord must prove ownership, identify the tenant and pay all outstanding bills
- Lock down of service and reconnection fees apply
- Service will not be automatically reconnected for a new tenant
State Bill 1311 and State Bill 1312
- It is a felony to steal, attempt to sell, or transfer electricity or natural gas service
- First offense is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or up to a $5,000 fine
- Second offense is punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment and/or up to a $10,000 fine
State Bill 1313 and State Bill 1314
- Assaulting an individual while he or she is performing duties as an employee of a public utility resulting in causing injury is a felony punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine
- If the assault causes serious impairment, the felony is punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years and/or not less than a $1,000 or more than a $5,000 fine
Copper cable theft is a growing problem across our state and across the country. Copper thieves have targeted live power lines and have taken transformers from Detroit Edison utility poles. Both practices are not only illegal, but extremely dangerous.
Both the Detroit City Council and the Michigan Legislature have acted to try to stem the tide of copper thefts. The City Council amended an ordinance to place stricter regulations on scrap metal dealers and scrap iron and metal processors, while the state legislature placed tougher penalties on certain entities caught buying or selling stolen copper cable.
We are offering rewards ranging from $2,500 to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest of copper thieves and people buying stolen copper. To report this illegal activity, contact our security department at 313.235.9119.
If you believe your personal information has been fraudulently used to open an electric or gas service account, or to conduct transactions related to your utility account, e-mail Customer Service or call 800.477.4747.
If you suspect that an electric or gas meter in our service area might have been tampered with, report it now online or call our theft hotline at 800.441.6698. All reports are kept strictly confidential. Telephone reports may be made anonymously. Remember, reporting energy theft may protect you, your family, your neighbors and your property.
Penalties and Fees
In addition to potential prosecution, energy thieves can be charged the following fees or penalties to have their service legally restored.
- Pole Reconnect Charge: $25
- Gas Street Reconnect Theft Cut and Cap: $1,930
- Gas Meter Relocation Fee for Reconnect Theft Cut and Cap: $850
- Equipment Tampering Charge (per occurrence): $50
- Unauthorized Energy Use Charge: $50
- Investigation Fee: As determined by our Revenue Protection Dept.
Any arrears from previous sites may be required to be paid prior to restoration of service, in addition to a deposit and possible fees.
Getting Service Restored
When energy theft occurs at a location, any customer seeking to restore service at that address - even if it is a new tenant or owner - will be required to provide Positive ID and proof of ownership or tenancy. If your services have been disconnected, please do not attempt to reconnect your own service. If your electric and/or gas meter is disconnected, do not tamper with the meter. Instead, contact our Revenue Protection Dept. at 800.441.6698 for assistance in reconnecting your service.
Positive ID is verified through one or more of the following:
- Social Security card ( or official and authentic papers with SSN, such as W-2 form)
- Driver's License or State ID
- Passport, Work Visa and Drivers License or State ID
- Military ID
- Employer Identification Number/Tax ID Number (for a business)
Proof of tenancy:
- Notarized Rental Affidavit or Rental Lease (signed by both landlord and Tenant)
Proof of ownership:
- Lease and/or Final Judgment Eviction Documentation (previous & current tenant information)
- Registered Warranty Deed
- Closing Package
- Sheriff Deed with Bill of Sale
- Registered Quit Claim
- Registered Land Contract
- Business Ownership Documents (Articles of Inc., DBA, LLC.)
Other acceptable authentic pieces of documentation to support your claim will be accepted when applicable.
- Police Report- squatters report
- Probate Document/Death Certificate
- Divorce Decree
- Power of Attorney Paper
- Signed Affidavit/Letter of Responsibility (Billing time frame to be included on affidavit)
There is a Better Way - DTE Energy Can Help
Many customers face economic challenges. There is a better way than theft. DTE Energy offers bill payment options and assistance programs that can help keep you home bright, warm and safe.
We can also connect you with agencies that provide services such as:
- Payment Assistance
- Credit Counseling
- 211 United Way Referrals
- Earned Income Credit filing
- Home Heating Credit filing
- Low-Income Weatherization
Call DTE Energy at 800.477.4747 or go online at dteenergy.com for more information about how to get help with your energy bill.