Privacy trampled yet no one cares | Adelaide Now

REX Jory shares an alarming tale of bureaucracy invading the sanctity of the home.

THIS is the extraordinary story of bureaucratic arrogance, bungling and incompetence. It is a frightening example of how the twin imperatives of time and money can corrupt to override sound judgment and trample on individual dignity and community rights.

It is also an example of the inability of authority, collectively or individually, to respond satisfactorily to rectify a blatant and deliberate act of lawlessness and public disregard.

That it occurred in an outer suburb of Melbourne is of no consequence. It could happen anywhere to anyone. I know the victim and can vouch for its authenticity.

For the protection of so many people, and possibly to ensure due process if there is ongoing action, I will simply refer to her as Jennifer.

The Victorian Government is installing digital electricity meter boxes in all homes and small businesses. These meters send quarterly readings direct to the electricity providers computer, eliminating the need for meter readers. The technology will eventually be adopted in South Australia.

Jennifer, who is seven months pregnant, recently received a letter which said her new meter would be installed on February 2 between 8.30am and 2.30pm. She was advised to make the house as cool as possible, turn off all refrigerators and freezers and any household computers on that day.

On January 30, three days before the contractor was due to install the new meter, Jennifer locked her wooden front door, popped her four-year-old daughter in the car seat and drove to the local shops.

She returned 2 1/2 hours later to find a blue folder on her front door containing a note: “Sorry we missed you. A new electronic smart meter has been installed on your premises.” There were details of the contractor, the installing technician, licence number, meter number and the date.

The old meter was inside so Jennifer assumed the new meter had been repositioned somewhere in the yard.

But when she looked the new meter had been installed inside. Someone had come into her house without authority while she out. A clear case of break and enter, of being unlawfully on the premises. Never mind the fridge, never mind the computer.

Jennifer rang the police who said that unless someone had been assaulted or something had been stolen there was nothing they could do. Jennifer said the contractor could have walked around the house assessing the value of jewellery, clothing, furniture and appliances. She suggested the police take the details of the incident and the contractors name in case there is a subsequent break-in.

They werent interested.

She rang the contractor who was concerned. The technician who installed the meter came to the house with a “team leader”.

The technician apologised but said he was able to force the lock on a side door with screw driver to gain entry. “It isnt a very good deadlock youve got there,” he said.

Jennifer said: “You actually broke in. You dont appreciate how I feel. I am horrified someone would do that.” They apologised and left.

She rang the Electricity Ombudsman who said she had a “pretty good case” and could expect a call from someone in higher authority from the contracting company.

At the time of writing she had heard nothing.”There are so many what-ifs,” Jennifer says. “What if I had left an elder relative or an older child at home alone? Im seven months pregnant. What if I had come home while the man was inside? What if we had an alarm system?”

Jennifer does not necessarily want the installing technician to lose his job. But she is rightly horrified that an electrical contractor believes he has the right to break into someones locked house to install a meter so that he can reach his daily quota.

It is contemptuous behaviour in a society which now puts a higher value on time and money than individual privacy, decency and safety.

And nobody gives a damn.

via Rex Jory: Privacy trampled yet no one cares | Adelaide Now.

This entry was posted in Adelaide, break and enter, Privacy Concerns, Smart Meter, South Australia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Privacy trampled yet no one cares | Adelaide Now

  1. Eric says:

    “Jennifer does not necessarily want the installing technician to lose his job”

    Rogue installers must be dealt with. If not then we are sending out a statement that
    power companies and their installers can do this sort of activity and get away with it.
    That’s just not on and some very serious statements need to be made. This installer
    (and any other such rogues) should not just lose his job but a whole lot more and it
    should be publicized so….and very loudly so.

  2. Cedar Wilde says:

    If the bloke broke into her house he deserves to be sacked. I don’t believe his bosses told him that was OK. If the police will not take breaking and entering seriously they should be sacked too!!
    There must be a higher authority who would be interested.

  3. Terry says:

    That story absolutely makes my blood boil!! Here is another “what if” for the record: What if you had a Rottweiler in the house that pounced on the intruder and ripped his throat out?
    As for that famous police line “There is nothing we can do.” I won’t say what I am feeling right now as my post wouldn’t get past the moderator. Please, please PLEASE go to the
    media with this story, for all our sakes!

  4. Anonymous says:

    This is appalling. ‘Break and enter’ is a criminal offence, regardless of whether those policemen chose to ignore the crime. Jennifer should take it to a higher authority, even the police commissioner, if necessary, who by the way is a nice, decent man according to a relative of mine who works for him. In fact, I will pass on the message in an email.

  5. Vickie says:

    That story is very disturbing, The Media needs to be made aware of this story so that the general public will all know what lengths the Authorities will go to to force this on all of us. I am so thankfull for this site, I wish the media would do more to help our cause

  6. Eva says:

    I am totally appalled reading this story!!! I would like the power company who authorised this
    break-in to be named.

    The fact that the police were not interested in this break-in is also appalling. So this then means
    anyone is allowed to break into anyone’s house…say, just to even look around, plant items in any house, do whatever they want, just so long as nothing is stolen and no-one is injured????!!!!!
    It also looks pretty suspicious that since the police had all details of WHO broke in, and they are
    still not interested in pursuing this, to me looks like collusion with the Victorian government. I do not believe that the electricity companies would attempt something like this UNLESS they have
    permission to do so by the government.

    I hope that Jennifer took photographs of the broken door lock, as evidence.

    From this story it
    is not clear if Jennifer was a person who had refused the installation? The reason I would like to know is that if she was, then it could be that the electricity companies are targeting those on their lists for refusal?

    I will be VERY interesting to see if the Ombudsman’s office actually DO something about this,
    because if they do not, that too, would show how far this government is prepared to go in
    pushing the installation of these meters.

    I know people who also have their meters inside their house, so will be passing this article onto them so they can be prepared for this too. I wonder what the scenario would be in such a case,
    where a person who has a meter inside their house, is at home, but does not answer the door
    to an installer…..then the installer decides to break in, and would therefore be in a confrontation
    with the home occupier!!! then what?…… other words, how far would these installers then

    I just know that had this happened to me I would be SO FURIOUS, I most certainly would not let
    this go, and push and push in every way possible to get this news out to the public. I for one,
    will link the article to as many internet sites as I can, others please do the same, to support this
    person, and to hopefully save others from having the same thing happen to them.

    Today, I had an easy experience as the first time of having my meter read, since having the
    lock put on the meter box – I was lucky, in that the meter reader and nice young guy, actually
    knocked on my door (as opposed to seeing it locked and walking away) and I unlocked the meter
    box for him, then locked it again when he had finished. I asked him how he felt about the new
    smart meters being installed and therefore him losing his job. He didn’t seem fazed, said it won’t
    be happening for awhile yet.

    • Cedar Wilde says:

      I also wondered if there was some collusion with the government for the police to take so cavalier a view. I don’t believe if I broke into someone’s house and had a look round and maybe installed a spy device the police would let me off because I hadn’t stolen anything. (Except the peace of mind of the residents!)

  7. This is disgusting. We need to reclaim our rights. You say you don’t want the installing technician to lose his job, but he should and he should be charged with breaking and entering in the process.
    Perhaps contacting Today Tonight or A Current Affair would be a good idea and go to the newspapers so that everyone in the State is aware of the tactics being used. How dare they?

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