Brendan Spaar has a warning for anyone planning to travel on the London train system. If you need to charge your device, do it before you get there. Trying to charge it on the train can get you arrested as a passenger on a London Overground train found out recently.
Robin Lee, a 45-year-old artist, was traveling on the train from Hackney to Camden. A community support police officer on the train saw that Lee’s iPhone was plugged into the outlet to charge. She proceeded to tell him that he was committing a crime of “abstracting electricity”. It probably sounds like a joke but this officer was taking it seriously.
As the train pulled into the station there were 4 officers on the platform. The officer on the train called out to them saying: ”This guy’s been abstracting electricity, he needs to be arrested”. The officers proceeded to handcuff him and take him to a British Transport Police station. Shortly after arriving at the police station, Lee was “un-arrested” for the original charge of abstracting electricity. Unfortunately, he was re-arrested on a second offense of “unacceptable behavior” after “becoming aggressive” when objecting to his prior arrest.
The outlets on the trains are clearly marked “cleaners use only and not for public use”. It doesn’t mention that ignoring the warning could get you arrested or fined. The reasoning is that the outlets are for cleaning equipment use and could damage the device that is plugged in to them.
Abstracting electricity is an offence under section 13 of the British Theft Act 1968. It carries a maximum jail sentence of five years. It might be a good idea to also post a warning of the damaging consequences to both your device and your wallet if you ignore the warning.