Energy theft is a recurring problem across the UK. It’s a criminal offence to tamper with gas and electricity meters and is costing the industry up to £500m a year. Some criminal gangs have been hotwiring power supplies in London for as little as £10 a meter.
Another issue reported was a man who dug up a street and opened the main power cable, enabling more than 1,500 north London properties to tap into free electricity.
The problem is not just reserved for the capital, as there are energy thieves operating nationwide. Investigators found not only five instances of gas theft but also two incidents involving electricity theft in the same street in Sheffield last year. A house was also destroyed, with two more being badly damaged by a suspected gas explosion.
A recent investigation in Bodmin, Cornwall found that electricity meters at two homes had been tampered with, and the problem seems to be far more widespread across the town.
Town Hall enforcement chiefs in Blackpool identified at least 30 businesses believed to be responsible for committing energy theft in January. Electricity meters had been bypassed by pulling out the electrical connections and re-attaching the wiring, meaning the meter did not tick over.
Non-professionally trained people can cause serious problems through tampering with meters. The safety implications when interfering with electricity or gas meters; include electrocution, fires, as well as explosions.
Impact on businesses
Energy theft impacts on future economic growth for all types of businesses. We spot around 80% of all energy theft. It’s important we do this, as theft increases bills for our honest customers.
A way for businesses to combat energy theft is by having a smart meter installed. The benefits of a tamper-proof smart meter include more control of your energy usage, accurate bills, the elimination of estimated readings and better budgeting. The meter readings will be more closely tracked enabling you to monitor your energy consumption.