Florida

FPL investigating string of thefts stripping its trucks of wheels, batteries

Miami

Florida Power & Light has increased security across its properties as it investigates a string of “highly organized” thefts that strip its trucks of their tires,wheels and batteries.

Since January, thieves have stolen upwards of $10,000 in tires, wheels and car batteries from FPL trucks in four Florida cities, the most recent on Monday in Jupiter in Palm Beach County. Over the course of four heists, they’ve made off with 68 tires and wheels and 16 batteries, company spokesman Dave McDermitt said.

On some occasions, the thieves have cut through fencing to gain access to company service centers and power substations, he said. If this persists, McDermitt said, the cost of doing business will increase — and customers may eventually pay the price in rate hikes.

“When somebody steals equipment from the company, they are effectively stealing from our customers,” he said.

The rash of robberies began at the turn of the new year in Port St. Lucie in St. Lucie County. Then, the thieves — McDermitt doesn’t know how many — traveled across the state and hit up Fort Myers and Bonita Springs on the West Coast in April before crossing over again and plundering property in Jupiter this week.

“It appears that this is a highly organized ring,” McDermitt said.

Local police have been notified of the thefts, and FPL has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the thieves.

“We’d like to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible,” he said.

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