Fresno man accused of stealing neighbors power

FRESNO, Calif.

John Ankney, 54, faces elder abuse and burglary charges.

"That's where he came in and he hooked into my electricity," Nancy Waterhouse said.

Waterhouse showed us the conduit line that investigators say John Ankney set up in her backyard shed.

Waterhouse first started noticing something was wrong last summer when her monthly electricity bill spiked to more than $900.

The 73-year old says her bills normally average $300.

So she called PG&E asking questions. "They said between one and three in the morning or four in the morning there was a lot of electricity being used. And I said well I'm in bed at that time. I'm not using anything."

A PG&E inspector came to the house and found nothing.

Then last month her handyman found this conduit line discretely placed behind a wooden beam.

Investigators say Ankney had been using it to steal electricity and transferred the power to his home where he built an elaborate indoor marijuana grow. But by the time detectives arrived at his house -- the marijuana was gone.

"Apparently during one time when the power was shut off -- he lost the crop. And lost all his plants. We did not recover any marijuana," Chris Curtice said.

Investigators also say Ankney tried to patch into PG&E's power lines on two separate occasions before he stole from Waterhouse.

Other neighbors are shocked and say they didn't notice anything suspicious going on during that time.

"He was pretty quiet guy. Pretty much kept to himself. Very cordial when we would see each other at the mailbox or whatever," Rick Palermo said.

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