DEAR HARRIETTE: I finally got around to some landscaping work I was planning on doing around the house. As I made my way to the back of my house, I saw an extension cord plugged into my outdoor outlet. After following it, I saw that it led to my neighbor's house! No one was home, so I simply unplugged the outlet and hoped they'd take the message. It's been a few days and my neighbors haven't tried to plug it back in, but I am furious. Who knows how much this "borrowing" cost me? Should I demand they pay me so I don't call the cops? -- Electricity Robbers, Randallstown, Maryland
DEAR ELECTRICITY ROBBERS: Forget trying to get back what you cannot quantify. What you can and should do is speak to your neighbors. When you are face-to-face, express your surprise at discovering that they were using your electricity. Ask if something happened to theirs to precipitate such an action. Press a bit to learn why they did it.
You may discover that their power went out one day, or some other emergency occurred. Whatever is said to you, make it clear that if they have an electrical need in the future, they should ask you before plugging in.