Freeland Library hit by power thief
By BEN WATANABE
South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS
July 20, 2011 · 8:32 AM
FREELAND — They’ve got the power.
Problem is, they didn’t pay for it.
Person or persons unknown were seen stealing electricity from the Freeland Library when the library was closed this past Sunday. Police were also called the previous Sunday when someone was seen dumping construction debris into the library’s garbage container.
On July 17, passers-by saw a woman parked outside the library. She was working on a laptop that was plugged into an external power outlet by way of a long, heavy-duty extension cord. Drivers in several other vehicles appeared to be waiting for their chance at the power outlet and the “free” electricity, including a man in a hybrid vehicle.
Betsy Arand, library manager, was surprised to hear of energy bandits at her branch.
“I am not aware of anybody who was here on Sunday doing that,” Arand said. “I’m kind of at a loss for words that somebody would do that.”
Arand said no one had permission to tap into the library’s power supply.
“We normally would not want people plugging into our power without us knowing about it,” she said. “We certainly had not given anybody permission to do that on Sunday.”
Even when the library is open, it’s rare the outside outlets are used. Arand said she gave permission for the outdoor outlets to be used last year by a group that wanted to show off an electric car.
News of the power pilferers surprised Sno-Isle Libraries officials, too. Rebecca Loney, director of technical services, said it’s not a problem she heard of or dealt with before at library facilities.
“This is new information,” Loney said. “Though, there’s a part of me that’s not particularly surprised. The Wi-Fi signal is so good there are people in their cars using it after our staffs leave.”
Typically, after-hours incidents involve vandals, pranksters or trespassers. Loney said an isolated instance wouldn’t warrant sweeping changes among the 20-plus locations and branches.
“If anything, we’ll have to wait and see if it becomes a trend or if it’s a one-time deal,” Loney said.
It appears only a small amount of juice was jacked.
Loney looked at Freeland Library’s power bill and compared it to previous years to check for any alarming increases, but since the bill is coded by month, she was unable to determine the day-by-day usage.
“We don’t have that specificity of, ‘Oh my gosh, look what’s happening on Sunday,’” Loney said.
“We’re in line with what we’ve done in the past” she added.
Contact South Whidbey Record Sports, South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Fire/EMS Ben Watanabe at email@example.com or 360-221-5300.