Energy theft is when someone tampers with, or tries to bypass or “fix” a gas or electricity meter so it doesn’t record energy usage correctly. They do this to make it look like they’re using less energy than they really are, to avoid paying their full gas or electricity bill – or to get out of paying for energy altogether.
Energy theft, also known as meter tampering, is a crime, and can lead to a fine and prison sentence. It’s also extremely dangerous, carrying the potential risk of property damage, serious injury or even death.
It’s not always easy to see if a meter’s been tampered with. But there are a few signs to look out for.
Signs of gas meter tampering might include:
There’s a smell of gas, or smell of burning, near the meter box
Signs of electricity meter tampering include:
Other things to look out for include:
Get more advice on recognising energy theft and meter tampering at Stay Energy Safe (run by Crimestoppers).
Yes, and they can still be unsafe. If you think your smart meter has been tampered with, please report it.
You can report energy theft anonymously and securely by getting in touch with Stay Energy Safe, which is operated by Crimestoppers.
Reporting is 100% anonymous. You can find out more on how reporting an energy crime works, and how your anonymity is protected, over at the Stay Energy Safe FAQs.
Anyone in a property that has a meter which has been tampered with or bypassed could potentially be affected, along with people in neighbouring homes. The risks are extremely serious, and can even be life-threatening.
Gas meters that have been tampered with are more likely to cause gas leaks. If gas builds up, it can cause health problems like headaches, memory loss, and loss of consciousness. Leaked gas is also highly flammable – turning on a light switch is enough to cause an explosion.
Tampering with an electricity meter can make switches and appliances become “live”, and can cause electrocution, burns and electrical fires. Tampered meters with exposed wires also carry the risk of electrocution.
Energy theft is a serious crime. Penalties for offenders include heavy fines and a prison sentence.
As an energy supplier, we’re legally obliged to take action to identify and investigate the theft of energy. You can read more about our obligations at the Energy Theft Charter.
The risks and consequences of energy theft are very real. You can read about real-life stories of energy theft at Stay Energy Safe.