Charges brought in theft of electricity

REDWOOD FALLS – A 42-year-old Redwood Falls man and 65-year-old Springfield man face felony theft charges in Redwood County District Court for using rural electrical power for an 18-month period, from Nov. 1, 2011 to May 31, 2013.

According to the complaint, Timothy D. Wertish of Redwood Falls and Terry D. Johnson of Springfield were charged Monday with felony theft and aiding and abetting, respectively, for the alleged theft of electrical power provided by Redwood Electric Cooperative (REC) by means of an un-metered connection in a machine shed owned by Wertish at 35994 Hunt Drive in Redwood County. The loss to REC from Nov. 1, 2011 to May 31, 2013 was estimated at $5,400 to $6,300.

The loss amount was calculated by estimating average usage of 300 to 350 kilowatts a month at 10 cents a kilowatt, according to court documents.

According to the complaint, the men performed an electrical bypass at Wertish’s home and Redwood Falls Auto Sales machine shed at 1601 East Bridge Street, Redwood Falls, allowing him to access electrical power without having to pay for it.

According to court documents, Redwood Falls Police, Redwood County Sheriff’s Officer personnel and REC officials reviewed power usage records that appeared “abnormal” over the past 18 months. Specifically, usage numbers for the winter of 2011 and summer of 2012 were very low, compared to information gathered from similar residences.

According to court documents, REC responded to a service call at Wertish’s residence in the fall of 2011, followed a cut through an electrical supply line by construction crews at the residence and later found that buildings were being fed with un-metered electricity through a breaker box.

The building did not appear to have an electrical system inspection. In addition, an original 200 amp meter socket was replaced by a 320 amp meter socket, which had been done without the REC’s knowledge, according to court documents.

(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at

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