The importance of being a good neighbor apparently was lost to a construction crew renovating a home on 65th Street in Holmes Beach.
Dorothy Pon arrived July 24 to her rental property on 65th Street — adjacent to the ongoing construction— to find five electrical cords plugged into the outlets in her backyard and the screen cut on her pool enclosure. And this was in spite of having denied permission to use her electricity to the contractors working next door.
Pon called the Holmes Beach Police Department and Officer Brian Copeman responded. In his report, Copeman noted the extension cords led from Pon’s outlets, through the backyard and over a fence, leading to a construction site at the neighboring property on 65th Street.
The contractor of the properties at 312 65th Street and 314 65th Street is Beach to Bay Investments. The owner-corporation lists Shawn Kaleta and Moss Brothers LLC as corporate managers.
Ryan Moss, who is overseeing the project for Beach to Bay, denied any knowledge of the apparent theft of services from Pon’s property when he arrived at the duplex.
Pon told Copeman and city building inspector David Greene, who also responded, that Beach to Bay owner Shawn Kaleta had contacted her requesting permission to use her electricity, and she had denied the request.
No charges were filed, although Moss was instructed to come to an agreement with Pon by 3 p.m. the same day, or the job would be red-tagged by the city building department.
An agreement was not reached, and Greene placed a stop-work order on the job.
Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said no charges on the utility theft were pursued because authorities lacked probable cause.
“We were not able to prove who plugged in the extension cords because no one would admit it and we didn’t have any witnesses,” said Tokajer. “What I’ve asked my officers to do in the future is to not unplug the cords and follow it to see who is using the electric.”
The complaint prompted Tokajer to have his clerk, T-Rex Ogle, look into past cases of Beach to Bay allegedly using utilities from neighboring properties without permission. Ogle found three other cases reported to Holmes Beach police since October 2012.
“With this instance, there’s not a lot of follow up because no one has seen it, and no one admitted to doing it,” Tokajer said. “I told Mr. Kaleta this type of practice can’t continue. He said he instructed the people on site not to use the neighbor’s electricity.”
Tokajer also said he suggested Kaleta contact Pon regarding the screen damage. The screen was cut to gain access to the circuit breaker on Pon’s property when it apparently became overloaded and needed to be reset.
“It’s all civil, so we can’t mandate anything,” Tokajer said. “I did discuss it with the state attorney, and unless we had admission, it’s not something we could prosecute.”
Pon said the repairs to her screen cost $100, and she is waiting for her next bill from Florida Power and Light. She said she already received a large bill, and was told by FPL to expect the bill to be higher next month.
In addition to running down compensation for her electric bills and damaged screen, Pon said she has had to chase off the construction crew who park in her driveway.
“They were parked all over the place. I had to boot one out of my driveway this morning. We even had to put up ‘tenant parking only’ signs,” Pon said.
Pon said she plans to gather her electric and screen repair bills, and have her attorney settle the matter with Beach to Bay.