Posted by British Gas in Energy
Energy theft is a problem in the UK and comes in many different forms – whether it’s tampering with the meter or by-passing it altogether; interfering with an energy meter is a criminal offence and we work closely with the police to help them prosecute offenders. People who steal gas and electricity by tampering with the meters, pipes and wires that supply energy to their homes or businesses are putting their lives, and the lives of their neighbours, at risk from everything from electric shocks to gas explosions.
British Gas leads the industry on tackling energy thieves. We have supplied gas theft detection services to other energy suppliers for nearly a decade – in an average year, 80% of all gas theft is detected by British Gas and this amounts to over 7,000 cases. We proactively work to uncover electricity theft, even though this responsibility lies with the network operators (the companies that maintain the infrastructure).
Although we have not detected increasing levels of energy theft levels in recent years, any stolen energy becomes a cost to British Gas, which we have to fund. This has an impact on bills – around £30 per bill per year. We don’t think it’s fair for honest customers to foot this bill which is why we work hard to catch people who are effectively stealing from our other customers.
Our Managing Director of Residential Energy, Ian Peters, explains:
“Gas and electricity theft is a serious issue, which places lives in danger and adds unnecessary costs to people’s energy bills. We estimate that the annual cost to UK customers of gas and electricity theft is up to £500m.
“British Gas has led the industry in devoting resource to detecting energy theft. Our team of professionals work with the police and network operators to stop this crime and make homes and businesses safe. We are constantly using new methods of detection to ensure we stay one step ahead of the perpetrators.”
One sign that gas or electricity is being stolen can be excessively low consumption in a particular property but we don’t ever assume that low consumption means a supply has been tampered with. Theft is not always the result of people feeling unable to pay their bills but is often carried out by people who just do not want to pay for their energy usage. This crime can be committed by anyone from private homeowners and landlords to small business owners.
We’ve been lobbying for a whole industry solution to the issue of gas and electricity theft and welcomed Ofgem’s proposals in July 2013 to enable greater sharing of information between suppliers and make energy theft detection easier. If all suppliers can actively work together to cut energy theft and help reduce energy bills, that’s good news for everybody.
If you think someone you know is tampering with their supply please call our theft detection team on 0800 587 2737 and report your concerns. Your call will be treated confidentially.
If you’re concerned about your energy costs, use our simple tool to find out what extra support you may be eligible for and to discover other ways to reduce your bill.