Police in the Atlanta area charged a man with theft after they say he stole 5 cents worth of electricity to power up his electric car. While he was watching his son’s tennis game at the boy’s school, he plugged his Nissan Leaf into one of the school’s outdoor outlets. After about 20 minutes the police arrived and told him he was stealing.

But 5 cents worth? The police say stealing is stealing.

By definition, yeah, it’s stealing, but in this case is it really worth the time? You’re involving police officers who could be doing something more important. You’re going to involve the courts who have plenty of other cases to deal with. The man charged with the “crime” might have to hire a lawyer taking up the lawyer’s time.

Here in New York State the law would likely consider it theft of services. Any theft under $1000.00 is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Anyone who “wrongfully takes, obtains, or possesses property or services” belonging to someone else is considered guilty of theft. The law provides up to a year in prison and a $1000.00 fine.

The man plans to fight the charge and says people charge their laptops and cellphones in public places all the time, but you never hear somebody getting arrested for that.

Is there another side to this story? Did somebody else have a score to settle with him and called the cops when they saw his car plugged into the school’s outlet. I bet there’s more to it than just stealing a nickel’s worth of power.