Death of Man Near Telephone Pole Under Investigation

By Venus Upadhayaya, Epoch Times
June 25, 2019 Updated: July 31, 2019

Reports of a man’s electrocution death while trying to steal copper from a transformer on a telephone pole in Dallas on June 23 are false and authorities said his cause of death is still under investigation.

Investigators said Gabriel Monjaraz, 25, wasn’t trying to steal when he died, according to the updated WFAA report.

Police reported to the scene after getting a 911 call about gunshots. Upon arrival, they found no gunshots but discovered a man dead about 30 feet away from a telephone pole, WFAA had earlier reported.

A woman was driving near the U.S. Highway 75 service road and Oliver Street when at around 3:15 a.m. she heard a loud bang and found a man lying on the road at the curb, reported The Dallas Morning News.

A witness thought he had been shot, according to CBS DFW, and when first responders arrived at the scene they thought that he had been hit by a vehicle. However, the Dallas County medical examiner said he had been electrocuted. But the Dallas police later said that wasn’t how he died.

In another case, a 56-year-old died due to electrocution while trying to steal electricity in Alabama. His skull was found outside a home and the rest of his body was found under an electricity pole out the front of another residence on June 21.

Authorities found the skull outside a Calhoun County home on Friday morning. Sheriff Matthew Wade said it belonged to 56-year-old Randall Stephens, Advance Local reported.

Wade said Stephens had been behind bars from Oct. 2018 on drug and gun charges. He was, however, released from Calhoun County Jail on May 16.

At the time of his arrest, Stephens was using stolen electricity, Wade said.

The owner of a home in Cedar Springs Community first noticed the skull on Friday at 7 a.m. while leaving his home, and reported it to deputies.

He told police that his dogs had probably dragged the skull onto his driveway, reported WBRC.

After finding the skull, deputies started the search for the body. They found it two-tenths of a mile away in front of another residence, reported Advance Local.

The body was badly decomposed when it was found under the power pole, according to Wade. Authorities found a ladder and climbing spikes next to the power pole and there was also a belt and jumper cable handles atop the pole.

The utility pole was stationed at Stephens’s residence, according to WBRC.

Police investigations found the deceased was trying to jump the power lines and gain illegal access to electricity at his residence.

“It appears Mr. Stephens was trying to jump power or steal power for his home, and apparently hit the wrong line or the wrong connection, and it killed him,” Wade told WBRC.

Authorities don’t know the exact date of when Stephens was electrocuted but said that it most likely happened immediately after he was released from jail. Nobody reported him missing.

“Respect electricity,’’ Wade told Advance Local. “Not only is stealing power illegal it is deadly.”

Electricity Theft

The United States loses $6 billion of power to theft every year, according to Forester Media.

It says after credit card data and automobiles, electricity is the third most stolen commodity in the country. The outlet says a substantial amount of electricity theft is done by undercover marijuana cultivation collectives across North America.

“People tamper with the meters, bypass them, or set up an independent grid connection to tap into the transformer. Some even put their own transformer on a higher voltage line,” Matt Spaur, senior marketing manager with Space-Time Insight, told Forester Media.

The report says energy theft in North America is only 1-3 percent but in other countries, it reaches up to 10-40 percent. However, it is still very difficult to curb electricity theft because thieves are becoming more sophisticated by the day.

This article has been updated to reflect Gabriel Monjaraz has not been charged with a crime and that his death is under investigation.

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