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July 23, 2017

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Man indicted for charging phone at MRT

The China Post news staff--Don't try to connect your mobile phone or notebook personal computer to any power socket at any mass rapid transit (MRT) station in Taipei or Taipei Main Railway Station, or you may be arrested on charges of electricity larceny.

This is not a groundless warning, as a man, surnamed Wang, was just indicted by Shilin District Prosecutors' Office for committing the crime of stealing public electricity last year by charging his mobile phone via an electric socket at the MRT Tamshui Station.

A patrol police found Wang's illegal practice and then handed him over to the Shilin District Prosecutors' Office for prosecution.

Wang reasoned that he didn't know it's an illegal practice to charge his mobile phone at an MRT's power socket, and therefore "unknowingly" violated the law.

But prosecutors refuted Wang's saying and indicted him, on grounds that all the power sockets at MRT stations bear two Chinese characters denoting that use of the sockets is forbidden. The heaviest punishment on such an illegal practice is five years in prison, according to the Criminal Code.

In fact, Wang's case was not the first one of its kind. In 2006, a woman, surnamed Lee, was caught for charging her mobile phone via a power socket at the Taipei Main Railway Station for eight minutes in 2006.

Lee was handed over to the Taipei District Prosecutors' Office, which finally ruled to impose a fine of NT$21,000 on her, translating into a "price" of NT$2,600 per minute.

In recent years, the government has worked hard to upgrade the software and hardware facilities at airports to provide passengers with free charging service. Although such free service is available at high-speed railway stations, and some Taiwan Railway stations such as Banqiao, Songshan, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Yilan, and Taitung, such service is not offered at the Taipei Main Railway Station or any MRT stations.

Officials with the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. said that as the MRT system is powered by electricity, it must to prohibit passengers from using power sockets at MRT stations lest any short circuit should occur to affect normal operation of MRT trains.

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