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Charging Your Phone on a London Overground Train Could Get You Arrested

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What’s worse than a long, cramped train journey? A long, cramped train journey without a smartphone to distract yourself with. But for artist Robin Lee, leaving his phone in his pocket may have been a more sensible option, as charging his device through a London Overground train’s power socket unexpectedly led to his arrest.

Speaking to the Evening Standard, 45-year-old Lee revealed how he had been using a socket on a train between Hackney Wick and Camden Road on Friday July 10th, before being confronted by a community support officer.


“She said I’m abstracting electricity,” he said.

“She was quite aggressive about it and kept saying it’s a crime. We were just coming into the station, and there happened to be about four police officers on the platform.


“She called to them and said ‘This guy’s been abstracting electricity, he needs to be arrested.’”

Lee tried to shrug off the “ridiculous” offence, but was cuffed, bundled into a waiting police van and taken to the British Transport Police (BTP) HQ on Islington’s Caledonian Road. He was then released.

According to the BTP, Lee’s “aggressive” behaviour may have been as instrumental in his arrest as his cheeky charging.

“We were called to Camden Road London Overground station on Friday, July 10, to a report of a man becoming aggressive when challenged by a PCSO about his use of a plug socket onboard an Overground train,” said a BTP spokesman.


“Shortly after 3.30pm, a 45-year-old man from Islington was arrested on suspicion of abstracting electricity, for which he was de-arrested shortly after.

“He was further arrested for unacceptable behaviour and has been reported for this offence.”


With it being perfectly fine on some nationwide rail services to use a plug socket, perhaps more should be done to inform commuters that the same liberal charging policies aren’t accepted on the London Overground, which feels somewhere like a halfway-home between the underground and a traditional overground service. While Lee’s allegedly aggressive response didn’t do him any favours, I’m sure many Giz readers would have been tempted to quite innocently nab a little train juice too.



This post originally appeared on Gizmodo UK, which is gobbling up the news in a different timezone.