In a stunt that counts as ingenious and little bizarre, someone secretly installed an operational electrical outlet on a traffic signal in Florida.
The device was found by Fort Walton Beach Officer Christopher Carter at the intersection of Perry Avenue and US-98, and closer inspection revealed it was not intended to switch the light from red to green.
Instead, it was being used as a makeshift charging station for phones and other electrical devices. Investigators realized this after finding a plug attached to a charging device of some kind.
“Are you kidding me”? Fort Walton Beach police asked in June 2 Facebook post. “Someone out there decided the traffic light was not functioning to its full ability, and wanted to help it reach a new level of usefulness. While we really are in awe of the ingenuity here, we would like to send out a little reminder that damaging a traffic signal is a felony.”
The device starts to make more sense when taking into account panhandlers and those without homes frequent the intersection, Fort Walton Beach Police Department Lt. Brandon Chapin told McClatchy News.
“Recently the intersection has been undergoing infrastructure upgrades, and this afforded an unknown individual opportunity to access an electrical panel,” Chapin said.
“The outlet was then crudely affixed to the pole with duct tape; thankfully, the access hole was too small and prevented any tampering to the pole’s actual wiring,” he continued. “This attempt appears to have been for access to the electrical services within the pole.”
City public works employees have since “removed the outlet and all its associated wiring,” he said. The wiring access panel has also been sealed to prevent it from happening again.
The department’s Facebook post about the outlet has gotten hundreds of reactions and comments, including some who called it “vigilante electrical work.”
“I have a light switch that needs to be swapped out, who ever did this is hired. I’ll even let them charge their phone,” Samantha Johnson wrote on the department’s Facebook page.
“Charge your phone while you wait to cross the street,” Patrick Armitage posted.
Fort Walton Beach is 160 miles west of Tallahassee.