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Wireless Freeloader Charged Because He Never Bought Coffee

Brewed Awakenings employees dialed 911 after Alexander Eric Smith of Battle Ground, Wash., piggybacked off the shop's wireless Internet service for more than three months. He's being charged with theft of service.

Gregg Keizer

June 22, 2006

1 Min Read

A Vancouver, Wash. coffee shop tired of seeing a 20-year-old man mooch off their free wireless Internet access called the police, who charged him with "theft of services."

Brewed Awakenings employees dialed 911 after Alexander Eric Smith of Battle Ground, Wash. piggybacked off the shop's wireless Internet service for more than three months.

"He doesn't buy anything," Emily Pranger, the shop's manager, told KATU, a Portland, Ore. television station. "It's not right for him to come and use it."

Smith allegedly parked his truck in the parking lot to use Brewed Awakenings' wireless access.

County deputies charged Smith with theft of services after returning to the parking lot after they told him to stop. The charge, which covers such crimes as bypassing a utility meter, stealing cable, and leaving a restaurant without paying, has been used in the past to prosecute hackers who have accessed a computer or network without paying for it. "It's something that is borderline creepy," Pranger said to KATU.

The Clark County sheriff's office and its prosecutors are reviewing the case, the television station's Web site noted.

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