Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/22/taiwan_mrt_electricity/

Wang charged in inappropriate electricity socket use

Battery top-up threatened metro station's power supply

By Phil Muncaster

Posted in Bootnotes, 22nd February 2012 10:19 GMT

Electricity thieves beware: if the battery charge in your phone or laptop is getting a little too low for comfort, don’t just stick your tech gear into the first available plug socket or you could find yourself in the back of a police van.

The warning comes from Taipei, where a man by the name of Wang was prosecuted this week after he did exactly that at a "mass rapid transit" railway station in Taiwan's capital.

Unlucky Wang was spotted by a policeman on patrol and subsequently ended up being indicted by Shilin District Prosecutors' Office for the crime of stealing public electricity, according to The China Post.

Wang argued he didn’t realise it was illegal to thrust his mobile's charger into one of the metro station’s sockets, a defence which would have stood up had it not been for the fact that all sockets at the stations are labelled clearly in Chinese with a notice expressly forbidding the practice.

According to the report, transgressors could face a whopping five years in prison if found guilty, which is a rather heavy price to pay for a full battery.

The report goes on to claim that in 2006 a woman named Lee was fined NT$21,000 (£450) after she was caught stealing electricity for her phone from Taipei’s main railway station. The service is offered free of charge at some of Taiwan's stations, although strangely not in the capital or any of its metro stations, the report added.

Taipei Rapid Transit claimed in the paper that the reason for its rigorous policy on such matters is that it is worried a short circuit may bring down the electricity-powered rail network.

It's enough to make you appreciate the London Underground, just. ®