AVONDALE, AZ - At least two homeowners are coming forward after someone flipped the main power break to their homes, leaving them in darkness in Avondale.
Rick Pendergrass says two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning at about 1:15 a.m., he was awoken by a battery backup alarm in his house near Dysart and Thomas.
Pendergrass went to turn on his lights and realized there was a problem.
“It's kind of like, if you've ever had your car broken into.. after that you feel pretty violated," said Rick Pendergrass.
In the darkness, he went to investigate.
Like a lot of homes in the Valley, the power meter and the breaker box are located on the outside of his home.
He went outside and found his panel door wide open. The main power switch had been flipped off.
"If it was a situation where someone wanted to rob us, it would have been very easy to take us back in the house and take things," added Pendergrass.
Avondale police received at least one more report of a similar situation on April 15, less than a mile away at a home.
It’s unknown if it’s connected in anyway, according to police.
Pendergrass says turning off the power to people’s homes can mean serious -- even deadly -- consequences, such as for anyone who is severely ill or relies on powered machinery throughout the night.
Police say the culprits could face a misdemeanor charge for criminal trespassing. Authorities say the totality of the circumstances could increase the severity of any criminal charges.
Rick has since secured his breaker box with a padlock and he’s encouraging others to do the same.
APS says they can provided a free lock to their customers to secure their breaker boxes by following these instructions:
Customers interested in a breaker box lock can either call the APS Customer Care Center or go to the support section of the utility's website.
They can send an email to APS with the subject “other” requesting a meter box lock be delivered to them and an APS representative will call them back.
As for SRP, officials said they do not provide locks for breaker boxes. However, if there is any SRP equipment, such as a meter or transformer box, located behind a gate on an SRP customers' property, they will provide a lock for the gate.