Computerized recording of electric meter readings is helping Utah Power & Light to keep a lid on electrical power thefts.

Dave Eskelsen, a UP&L spokesman, said that while the company is concerned about illegal power tap-ins or efforts to route wiring around meters, the company has not found it necessary at this point to hire a full-time investigator like its Idaho counterpart, Idaho Power Co."Right now we're relying on our computers to identify anything that is odd or different," Eskelsen said. "If we get a reading that appears unusual then we can go back and re-read it and take action if needed."

Theft of utility services is not uncommon. It was such a case involving natural gas service that allowed law enforcement officials to identify, arrest and hold a Utah couple last fall while Idaho authorities prepared a child abandonment case.

Idaho Power's decision to hire a full-time investigator followed a case in Wilder, Canyon County, in which more than $1,200 in electrical power was stolen. About 150 energy theft cases were reported to Idaho Power last year, and officials believe wire tampering is increasing.

Eskelsen said it is unlikely UP&L will hire a full-time investigator unless a trend similar to that in Idaho begins to surface here.