Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette Leitchfield Utilities announced Thursday its plans to prosecute individuals who steal services within the city.

Matt Lasley | GC News-Gazette

Leitchfield Utilities announced Thursday its plans to prosecute individuals who steal services within the city.

Leitchfield Utilities announced Thursday a campaign to begin prosecuting thefts of service.

Leitchfield Utilities attorney David Vickery said during Thursday's utilities commission meeting that the theft of utilities has accelerated recently, not just with Leitchfield, but throughout the state, and the city will begin criminally charging anyone who steals service from the city or who signs up for a service to allow someone he or she knows to steal service.

"We've got to really discourage that," Vickery said.

A significant issue, officials said, is that there are many people in Leitchfield who move around frequently to avoid paying for their utility service, particularly individuals who rent properties within the city.

Leitchfield Utilities Superintendent Dwight Embry also said the city is looking to implement harsher punishments for individuals who tamper with utility meters.

Another issue has arisen in which individuals who rent or own properties within the city of Leitchfield illegally tamper with utility meters so they give off an inaccurate reading. Currently, Embry said, the city has a $100 tampering fee, but it has not traditionally been charged.

However, as the city has encountered this issue at the same locations on multiple occasions, Embry said, it is time to begin holding not only the individuals responsible for the tampering accountable, but also the property owners who rent out the properties in question and do nothing to prevent it.

Embry said he is looking to implement a policy in which, if a meter is tampered with three times on the same property, the city will disconnect the utility service and the property owner will be responsible for the $525 fee to reconnect the service.

"We need to make the landlord responsible," he said.

Vickery and Embry have been collaborating on updated ordinances to help combat these issues, and they will present them for consideration at the commission's next meeting.