Measure to create felony in utility thefts stalls in Senate
The measure would increase penalties for theft of cable or hardware when it causes a utility or telecommunication outage.
Rep. Debbie Rodella, D-Espanola, is sponsoring the bill. She said it would deter thefts of copper from power lines or other equipment.
Rodella during the House debate said even petty thieves of copper wire can shut down phone service, the Rail Runner, physicians’ offices and cash machines.
Her bill cleared the House on a 60-0 vote. But it stalled 5-5 Monday night in the Senate Judiciary Committee. With only four days left in the session, the bill will need a life-saving measure to succeed.
Many cable or wire larcenies are now petty misdemeanors. Under Rodella's bill, a thief who caused a utility outage would see the charge escalate to a third-degree felony.