Frigid no-heat headache for 84-year-old Brooklyn woman

BROOKLYN, New York (WABC) -- One Brooklyn mother has got some moxie. She noticed something was up when her gas bill went from a hundred to thousands and took action, complaining long and loud.

Eloise Sprance had gloves on her hands and was wearing three pairs of socks inside her own kitchen, where 7 On Your Side took the temperature at a chilly 50 degrees.

The 84-year-old's stove won't light, and the water only runs freezing cold.

Sprance says her heat was shut off the first week of December.

Her gas was shut off after an alarming spike in her bill. Last spring, it blew up from around $100 per month to more than $5,000. So she called National Grid to investigate.

Mrs. Sprance said National Grid told her landlord it was the downstairs Little Caesars pizza shop that tapped into her gas line, blowing her bill sky high.

7 On Your Side asked the pizza shop owner, Eric Lin, if he knew about this, and he blamed his contractor, saying he didn't do all the work.

Lin's owned the Little Caesar's franchise for the last two years. He told 7 On Your Side his gas bill for their multiple pizza ovens remained the same while his upstairs neighbor, supplying the shop's gas, began ballooning five months ago.

We asked him, why did his gas lines get combined with his neighbor in May? He said he's trying to figure it out.

The New York City Department of Buildings and National Grid are trying to figure that out too. In the meantime, their gas and hers was shut off.

Outside that day in mid-December, it was a frigid 21 degrees. 7 On Your Side called the city and the utility to see if we could help warm things up. And within a few hours, National Grid did its best, restoring service for Mrs. Sprance.

After a cold week, the mercury was finally rising and that massive bill was corrected.

Sprance was notified she will get a refund from National Grid of nearly $6,300.

The pizza shop remains closed, and National Grid confirmed the store was siphoning gas.

How can you foil this type of fraud? First, watch for high power bills and power boxes that have been tampered with. Document and report problems to the power company. It can be costly and potentially dangerous.
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