Science Energy Thief Trips Up and Leads Police to Stolen Solar Panels By Shea Gunther Writer University of New Hampshire Rochester Institute of Technology University of Southern Maine Shea Gunther is a writer, entrepreneur, and podcaster living in Portland, Maine. He covers topics such as renewable energy, climate change, and nature. our editorial process Shea Gunther Updated January 23, 2020 Some criminals are just not particularly bright. (Photo: Art Prestige studio/Shutterstock) Share Twitter Pinterest Email Energy Renewable Energy Fossil Fuels Christopher Bess is not a smart criminal. The 32-year-old California man stole 46 solar panels from a school in February. He stashed the panels in a storage facility with the intent of selling them to support his drug habit. He was in jail for an unrelated crime and made the stupid mistake of phoning a friend on a police-monitored phone and giving instructions to empty out the panels. The cops sent over some cars to the location Christopher gave his friend and found some of the panels as well as various other stolen items Mr. Bess planned to liquidate to buy drugs. He was sentenced to seven years in prison; he could have received a sentence of 15 had he been convicted during trial. I'm glad Johnny Law came out on top of this one. Solar panel theft is a rising problem in California, and it's good to know that those school kids will soon have at least some of their panels back on the roof churning out sweet, sweet clean energy.