Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

4-Plex – Grow Lights, Electricity Theft & Spy Cameras

Part 3 of a 5-part series…

This is a continuation of the story about the 4-plex we owned in Austin, TX. The one with the crystal meth (Part 1) and swarming bees (Part 2).

Same property.

A resident called to tell me his electric bill was running $350/month. That’s way too high for a small 2-bedroom apartment. I agreed.

The main source of electricity consumption is the air conditioner. We figured this was the problem. I liked the guy and thought we had become friends, of sorts. So, I replaced the whole A/C system for his apartment, upgrading it to a nicer, high-efficiency unit. Cost = $4,000. But this was part of my longer-term plan to slowly upgrade everything to higher quality. The area could use it… and I thought it the right thing to do.1

The new A/C helped with the electric bill a bit, but not nearly as much as when the tenant illegally tapped into the electrical wiring for the apartment across the hall, via the attic.

Stealing Electricity

I was in the attic one day inspecting something else (after the tenant had moved out) and noticed an orange extension cord running across the attic from one unit to the other. Basically, he had taken an extension cord, cut off the plug, hand-twisted the wires together to tap his neighbor’s electricity and dropped the power cord into the closet of his master bedroom. Free energy, just dangling from the closet ceiling.

I later learned from the neighbors that my tenant with the high electric bill had grow-lights on 24/7 in the master bedroom closet for his own horticulture project. The special kind. This explains the high energy usage, both for the lights and the A/C.

I felt incredibly naïve (again).

Security Cameras

I should have known there was a reason for the security cameras he placed outside his front door. The neighbors across the hall did not like how the cameras pointed at their front door. Felt invasive to them.

There’s more to this story with the cameras, but I’m going to omit that part. Let your mind wonder, then venture further. Further. There. Yeah, that happened too. And then some other things after that, which were even worse. If you are questioning if you went too far with your imagination. Probably not. 2

It gets worse in Part 4…

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  1. And maybe it would help compensate for tossing his vacuum cleaner in the dumpster. Yeah, that guy.
  2. But you’re sick and twisted for thinking it.

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By Andy Jones
Past Midway Ramblings on Business & Life

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