Police in Samara have opened a criminal case against a local man who stole the three-ton “pyramid of shame” planted outside his cottage by his utility company.
Stamped in bright yellow letters, the landmark reads, “A debtor lives here!” The man in question (whose name hasn’t been released to the public) reportedly owes more than 45,000 rubles ($690) for water and sewer service. Several days after the object was deposited outside his home, the man decided to rid himself of the dishonor, not by paying off his debts but by breaking off the top of the pyramid and then paying a freight truck to carry it away.
Local reporters say surveillance cameras captured the whole incident on video. The man is charged with felony theft and faces up to two years in prison. He’ll also have to pay for the damage he inflicted on the utility company’s pyramid — a drop in the bucket compared to the 25 million rubles ($384,125) he reportedly owes to other companies and lenders.
The “pyramid of shame,” meanwhile, was quickly discovered, repaired, and returned to the curb outside the man’s house. On its website, the utility company thanked the “attacker” for revealing a flaw in the object’s design, adding that it’s made some improvements. “Now it’s basically impossible to break the pyramid and remove it!” the company explained.
The RKS-Samara water company first mobilized these “shame pyramids” in May 2018. So far, the objects have appeared outside the homes of 82 people who refused to pay their bills. The company says this unorthodox tactic has helped bring in more than one million rubles ($15,370) in outstanding fees. For bad customers who live in apartment high-rises, RKS-Samara has even used a crane to perch a lighter version of its shame pyramid outside people’s balconies.