Electric vehicles no longer count as spaceships of the road; last month alone, U.S. automakers sell about 10,000 vehicles with a plug every month, and a few like the Nissan Leaf have become commonplace. Unfortunately for those owners, the methods of charging such cars hasn't kept pace with their growth; there's only about 6,800 public charging stations nationwide, and it's not uncommon for an EV owner to have to ask for some spare juice.
But what happens if there's no one to ask? That's the trouble facing a Georgia man who was arrested and spent a night in jail — all for taking electricity worth about a nickel.
According to WXIA-TV, Kaveh Kamooneh had plugged in his Nissan Leaf to an external power outlet at a Chamblee, Ga., middle school while his son played sports inside. Kamooneh says 20 minutes after plugging in, a police officer asked if he had permission to do so; when Kamooneh noted that no staffers were around, the officer accused him of stealing.
Eleven days later, the Chamblee police came to Kamooneh's home and arrested him, forcing him to spend a night in the county jail. A Chamblee police sergeant told the station the amount of the theft was immaterial — what mattered was that Kamooneh took without asking.
Kamooneh's arrest appears to be the first of an EV owner for supposedly stealing energy, a crime usually pursued only on the level of entire homes sucking illicit electrons. Electricity isn't so expensive nor rare as to require criminalizing such borrowing; no airport has ever cracked down on flyers using outlets to power their laptops. The new world of electric travel may need not just new places to re-fuel, but new social rules for doing so.