Energy theft and meter tampering

What is energy theft and how do I report it?

 

What is energy theft? 

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 correctlyThey do this to make it look like they’re using less energy than they really areto 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 dangerouscarrying the potential risk of property damage, serious injury or even death. 

 

How do I spot if my meter’s been tampered with? 

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:  

  • The meter has been been turned around the wrong way 
  • The dials aren’t moving (even when the gas is on), or have been removed entirely

There’s a smell of gas, or smell of burning, near the meter box 

  • There’s rubber tubing instead of pipes 
  • A prepayment meter that says there’s no credit available, but the gas is still on

 

Signs of electricity meter tampering include: 

  • The meter casing may be damaged, melted, scorched, or there’s no meter casing at all 
  • The cables have been disconnected, or there are extra wires attached to the meter 
  • A prepayment meter that says there’s no credit, but the electricity is still on 
  • The dials aren’t moving (even when the electricity is on)
  • There’s a smell of smoke or burning, or there are sparks or smoke near the meter box

 

Other things to look out for include:

  • Landlords that don't let you access your meter
  • Calls or emails from anyone offering free gas or electricity, or claiming to sell cards for more energy than you would otherwise pay for

Get more advice on recognising energy theft and meter tampering at Stay Energy Safe (run by Crimestoppers). 

 

Can smart meters be tampered with? 

Yes, and they can still be unsafe. If you think your smart meter has been tampered with, please report it. 

 

I think someone is stealing gas or electricity. How do I report it, and can I do it anonymously? 

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. 

 

What are the risks of energy theft? 

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 meter tampering can cause fire and explosions 

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 consciousnessLeaked gas is also highly flammable turning on a light switch is enough to cause an explosion.  

 

Electricity meter tampering can cause electrocution, burns and fires 

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 criminal offence, and offenders will be prosecuted 

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.