541.26  PROSECUTIONS FOR THEFT OF UTILITIES.
   (a)   In a prosecution for a theft offense, as defined in Ohio R.C. 2913.01, that involves alleged tampering with a gas, electric, steam or water meter, conduit or attachment of a utility that has been disconnected by the utility, proof that a meter, conduit or attachment of a utility has been tampered with is prima facie evidence that the person who is obligated to pay for the service rendered through the meter, conduit or attachment, and who is in possession or control of the meter, conduit or attachment at the time the tampering occurred has caused the tampering with intent to commit a theft offense.
   (b)   In a prosecution for a theft offense, as defined in Ohio R.C. 2913.01, that involves the alleged reconnection of a gas, electric, steam or water meter, conduit or attachment of a utility that has been disconnected by the utility, proof that a meter, conduit or attachment disconnected by a utility has been reconnected without the consent of the utility is prima facie evidence that the person in possession or control of the meter, conduit or attachment at the time of the reconnection has reconnected the meter, conduit or attachment with intent to commit a theft offense.
   (c)   As used in this section:
      (1)   "Utility" means any electric light company, gas company, natural gas company, pipe-line company, water-works company or heating or cooling company, as defined in Ohio R.C. 4905.03, its lessees, trustees or receivers, or any similar utility owned or operated by a political subdivision.
      (2)   "Tamper" means to interfere with, damage or bypass a utility meter, conduit or attachment with the intent to impede the correct registration of a meter or the proper functions of a conduit or attachment so as to reduce the amount of utility service that is registered on the meter.
(ORC 4933.18)
   (d)   Each electric light company, gas company, natural gas company, pipeline company, waterworks company or heating or cooling company, as defined by Ohio R.C. 4905.03, or its lessees, trustees or receivers, and each similar utility owned or operated by a political subdivision, shall notify its customers, on an annual basis, that tampering with or bypassing a meter constitutes a theft offense that could result in the imposition of criminal sanctions.
(ORC 4933.19)