DirecTV Installer Faces Seven Years Behind Bars After Stealing $5,400 From A Customer

21-year-old DirecTV installer Arthur Christian faces felony grand larceny charges after allegedly stealing $5,400 from a locked safe while working unsupervised in a customer’s basement.

We can’t really blame Arthur for misreading DirecTV’s past scrapes with bribery and thievery as a license to steal. To his credit, he apparently managed to show for a 9 a.m. Sunday appointment. Maybe the judge will see that as a mitigating factor during sentencing? He’ll need all the help he can get: if convicted, Arthur faces between two and a half and seven years in jail.

TV installer allegedly swipes over 5G from Staten Island customer [Staten Island Advance] (Thanks to Todd!)
(Photo: brianc)

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  1. benh57 says:

    Hate to say it.

    But my first thought was to blame the victim here…

    If i don’t say it, someone else will. :P

    1) Leaving installer alone in your house, unsupervised
    2) Having $5,400 in cash in a safe in the first place. That could make about $16/month in an ING direct savings account right now.

  2. evslin says:

    I probably wouldn’t leave anybody alone in my house if they were near something I would severely regret losing.

  3. Zeniq says:

    Er… If the safe was locked, exactly how did this guy steal the moola? Did he just jail-break the entire safe?

  4. It is so sad to see young people ruin their lives….

    He had a job and a future at 21 – now what will happen to him once he is release from prison and tries to earn a decent living in this competitive job market …

    Another one bits the dust

  5. Ubermunch says:

    @Public Relations:

    Wha? C’mon… the guy’s 21 and must’ve known not to steal thousands of dollars from someone’s home! This isn’t some DWI or urinating in public charge… this is felony theft. I don’t see the need to give sympathy to the criminal element here. This is someone who needs to be locked up.

    Oh… and by “criminal element” I mean both the thief and Direct TV. Also makes me wonder if the guy actually installed the system.

  6. veterandem says:

    @Public Relations:
    That’s OK, DirectTV will have a job waiting for him when he gets out…..

  7. JN2 says:

    This installer was eliminating the middleman and helping the customer by pre-paying his lifetime subscription to Suck-TV.

    This is a feature upgrade, you will be charged accordingly.

  8. gomakemeasandwich says:

    A few things, none of which will be directly about the story:

    First, things may have changed, but when I worked at DirecTV, most of the installers were actually NOT employed directly by DirecTV, but were working for companies that DirecTV had contracted out for installation services (and in some cases those companies would in turn subcontract the work out to other people, seriously).

    Second, in my experience there were two types of DirecTV installers–the good ones, and the really really bad ones. There’s one company in particular that was well known to be really, really bad (to the point where one of installers from this company actually bitched out the DriecTV service rep) and unfortunately, they seemed to do a lot of DirecTV’s installation work. Some examples from the really really bad companies would include calling DirecTV and pretending to be the customer to reschedule an appointment so they could take a longer lunch break, showing up at the customer’s house at 9, 10 and 11PM to start installation, telling the customer that they had to pay them directly for the work (which is outright stealing, and only the dumbest of the dumb would usually do this), and sometimes doing such a poor job with the installation that the customer would either have to have another installation appointment or would just cancel their DirecTV altogether. These by the way were far from isolated incidents.

    And third, since DirecTV used so many contractors for its install work, if you ever had to call DirecTV about an installation issue, it was very difficult to track down and fix the customer’s problem (and discipline the installer if necessary), since they didn’t technically work for DirecTV and DirecTV was unlikely to stop working with the contractor over a single issue.

  9. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @JN2:

    You’d be shocked, but there was a package (I don’t know if it still exists) that costs $3000 a year. It was pretty much just every channel and package available and unlimited pay per views.

  10. Keter says:

    Something’s fishy here. Most installers barely know enough tool use to accomplish their jobs. And we’re supposed to believe this one’s a safe-cracker? I’m not saying it isn’t possible, just not likely. And when I have installers in my house, I at least check on them every few minutes, and I have only a handful of things that are worth stealing – I’m more worried about property damage due to stupidity or carelessness.

    I know from my own experience that sometimes the “victim” and “perpetrator” aren’t who they seem to be, particularly when one person is young and inexperienced, the other is “established,” and there is money to be made from insurance or lawsuits. It’s really easy to claim a theft happened, and nearly impossible to prove that there was nothing there to be stolen. Ask anyone in the hotel business how often that happens. I would want to see some evidence that this crime even happened before I started pointing fingers.

  11. lemur says:

    Hmm… the article calls the safe a “lockbox” and “locked strongbox”. In my mind the word “lockbox” suggests a particularly weak kind of protection. So we’re not talking about someone breaking into some thick safe here but a guy who probably with very simple tools was able to open a lockbox of the type used to store petty cash in a secretary’s desk.

  12. nsv says:

    @benh57: 1) Sometimes it’s unavoidable to leave an installer unattended. And hey, when I had a gold service plan on a very old furnace, those guys were there at least twice a week. I had coffee ready for them, we were on a first name basis, and you’d better believe I didn’t spend hours in the basement watching them.

    2) Don’t you have any cash in the house? I know I’ve got $100 stashed somewhere, just in case. But then, I can’t afford things like DirecTV (or a house with a basement.) Maybe if I had more money I’d keep more on hand. The victim could have plenty in interest bearing accounts.

  13. domo-arigato says:

    Yet another way DirecTV has found to rip off the customer.

    That being said, who in their right mind would leave his lockbox in the vicinity of a stranger in the house? Did he forget it was down there? I sure wouldn’t forget $5K in cash in my basement!

  14. Right now, it’s only the Victims claims that money was stolen. The victim has no reason to lie about the theft, but there is no proof the guy stole anything is there? Is there proof that 5k was in the box? Or that the tech broke into it? It looks like a he said she said thing. We really need more information.

  15. synergy says:

    I’m always getting on my husband’s case about not hanging out in the same room as a technician or other service employee when they come over. He thinks I’m paranoid, I say this is someone I don’t know, have never seen, and have no guarantee that their employer did a background check before hiring them. So. Yeah. Never leave strangers alone in your house for extended periods of time, especially if you have something worth stealing that’s easily portable.

  16. christoj879 says:

    @JN2: For 5 grand, I’d invite the customer downstairs for the best happy ending to a DirecTV installation ever (no, not it actually working).

  17. FTFA:
    breaking into a lockbox” and “a locked strongbox was broken into and cash lifted“.

    From the Consumerist summary:
    stealing $5,400 from a locked safe while working

    To me, a safe and a lockbox/strongbox is much different. Most devices that I’d consider a lockbox are the size of a shoebox and can easily be opened without a key. I used to own one when I was a young teen, and I picked its lock myself even though I had never picked the lock of anything ever before.

    In any case, the homeowner might consider bringing action against the contracted installer company to find out if they do background checks on their employees (employees who routinely are in the homes of customers). Wouldn’t it be responsible for the company to know if a person were previously arrested for theft, assault or sex crimes?

  18. bohemian says:

    @Public Relations: Comcast will hire him.

  19. My keyboard has a typo key says:

    I ma going to skip the usual me, me , me comments…

    I can care less who Dorito.. err > I mean DirectTV hires. The big thing..

    WHY ARE THEY NOT BONDED? IF you have a huge bond hanging over your tool belt. Why would you even think of screwing up?

    If a sub comes into my pad. I ask if they are bonded. If they look at me all stupid. Well.. They have no clue what is going on.

  20. Amelia Subverxin says:

    Sunday at 9 AM? That seems like an odd time for an installation.

    I once had a contractor show up at my retail business at 8 PM on a Saturday night, which seemed a little odd. He brought two assistants. The first held his ladder and passed him tools, and the second one went into the stockroom while my employees were busy with customers and started going through our purses, looking for cash. Unfortunately for him, a store employee started to walk into the stockroom, saw him going through her purse, and ran back out to call 911 before he noticed her.

  21. mythago says:

    Having $5,400 in cash in a safe in the first place. That could make about $16/month in an ING direct savings account right now.

    Right, and if ING ran into any problems or refused to give the customer’s money to him because he ran into a crazy CSR, you’d be ranting about how only morons keep all their money in banks and smart people keep cash around the house for emergencies. :P

  22. freqhz says:

    sounds like he should move to upper level management or
    go into politics, he’s pre-qualified.

  23. forgottenpassword says:

    How the hell did a 21 yr old guy crack a safe? Something is odd here. Doesnt make any sense.

  24. forgottenpassword says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    Oh… it was a “lockbox”…. hell! I can get one of those open with a large screwdriver!

  25. Joedragon says:

    @forgottenpassword:
    He just drill it open with his tools

  26. sodden says:

    Wait. Did they find the cash on him or even his fingerprints on the lockbox?

    The article simply states he was the only one who was in the basement at the time it could have been done. That’s not even circumstantial evidence. In fact, there’s only the homeowner’s word that it must have happened then and there was even that much cash in the lockbox.

  27. nursetim says:

    I always hang out with a tech when they are in my house, if nothing else so I figure out how to reverse engineer what they installed if I ever run into a problem. The only time I have ever had someone in my house unattended was when I had to have repairs done to my furnace, but I used a local heating/cooling company that bonded their techs. I would never do that if with an installer, since many times they work for some sub contractor and there is less accountability. This is not to blame to victim, but just some common sense for anything.

  28. mythago says:

    In fact, there’s only the homeowner’s word that it must have happened

    In fact, we don’t know what evidence there is, because all we have is a summary from a local paper. I rather doubt that a prosecutor would be bothering to bring charges “the homeowner’s word” was the only evidence.

  29. NotYou007 says:

    I’m a computer tech and it is amazing how many people will leave you alone in their homes. I’ve been told to just shut the door on my way out more than once. I was once left in a house that was worth at least twenty million. Was left alone for over an hour but I was there to setup a wireless network, not rob them. I’ve worked on computers with large sums of money right infront of me while the person left the room. Maybe I’m a person that just looks trustworthy, I don’t know. I’ve had people also leave their homes unlocked for me to come in and repair their computer while they are gone. Granted some like to watch what is going on but the majority of people will just leave you alone.

  30. HogwartsAlum says:

    @nursetim:
    Me too. I follow them around and watch what they are doing. That way, if it gets messed up, I can usually remember what or where they were working so I can tell the person who has to fix it what to look at. Also, they aren’t alone with my stuff!

    My original DirecTV installation was NOT done in a grounded outlet. So it blew up my new digital TV. The installer never mentioned it. When I was trying to get the local place to come out sooner, I talked to their manager on the phone and he told me that guy wasn’t working there anymore. I didn’t ask why because his tone of voice didn’t encourage it. But I think I can guess!

  31. atypicalxian says:

    @gomakemeasandwich: DirecTV needs to get through its collective head that its installers are the face of their company, subcontracted or not. The installer is the only in-person contact its customers have. DirecTV needs to do a lot tighter control on who their installers are.

  32. Meathamper says:

    Yeah, you know, you can’t put cameras there, because the DirecTV guys will just steal those too.

  33. Joe-Bob says:

    I’d be happy with someone taking anything from my basement. In fact, they can take it all. Please.

  34. TACP says:

    @atypicalxian: They’re in the process of buying out most (if not all) of their subcontractors, so they can get better control over installations.