UPDATED 1:25 pm: Electrical outlets in Metro stations get a lot of action in this smartphone era, but although they're constantly being used to charge riders' devices, that's not actually what they're intended for. The outlets are supposed to be there so maintenance crews—and only maintenance crews—can power their tools at stops and in stations so they can do repairs, wash platforms, and buff floors, a Metro rep tells KPCC. "It's not free electricity," he adds, which is why Metro considers taking that power stealing and has seriously arrested people for doing it. Update: Mayor/Metro board chair Eric Garcetti has ordered Metro to stop arresting people for using the outlets; according to a statement, "Moving forward, Metro customers will be permitted to charge their phones unless it causes interference with Metro operations."
While no one got a ticket in 2014 for plugging in, there have been three arrests/charges for stealing electricity. Weirdly, the people arrested were also charged with possession of drugs and counterfeit money. So Metro is either throwing in the illegal charging charge on top of more serious crimes, or using illegal charging as a way to snoop for other things. Most people seem to just get warnings; three people is a small fraction of the people charging their phones up at stations every day. But one rider brings up an important safety concern: "What if you're out here late at night and you need your phone charged, you need a ride?"