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Utah man, 91, accused of stealing power for decades

Clarence Stucki
Clarence Stucki is charged with stealing electricity and has admitted to tapping into a power line as far back as the 1940s  

LOGAN, Utah (CNN) -- A 91-year-old Utah man who authorities said drew free electricity from a nearby power line for decades faces theft charges after calling to complain about an outage.

Clarence Stucki is charged with stealing about $82,000 worth of power -- but officials from Logan Light and Power said Stucki admitted tapping into the line as far back as the 1940s, so the total is likely much higher.

Ron Saville, the power company's director, said Stucki has been using power for free roughly since World War II. But the statute of limitations prevents Stucki from being charged beyond seven years of theft.

"He bypassed the meter for quite a bit of electrical consumption," Saville said.

Authorities only discovered the illegal draw on the line after Stucki called his local utility to complain about an outage. Crews correcting the problem discovered the diverted connection on the roof of a three-apartment dwelling and a wood workshop, all of which Stucki owns.

Stucki remains at his home with his wife, and the power company says it does not plan to put him in jail -- just recoup lost costs.

Utah home
Stucki and his wife remain at this Utah house, and the power company says it does not plan to put him in jail  

"My personal feelings are that we've got to treat all customers alike," Saville said. "If they are guilty of committing a crime, then they should be charged." But he added: "We're not going to put the man in jail."

Whoever diverted the line had "scraped the wires bare and attached the wires to bypass, and simply taped them on," said Saville. "That was a very dangerous thing to do."

Touching those wires could have been fatal, Saville said. He speculated the tap went unnoticed for decades because it was on top of the home.

"A meter reader wouldn't be looking up there for an illegal tap off the wires," he said.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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