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Theft of energy

By: Crimestoppers, in partnership with the IET

As people and businesses struggle with the cost of energy, the temptation to go rogue arises.

Electrical installers who visit and work on commercial and residential properties can be the first ones to spot when something is wrong, such as when energy is being stolen.

In 2023, research showed that 43% of electricians and gas engineers were asked by customers about tampering with meters to make them run slowly (according to Direct Line Business Insurance).

Meter tampering is extremely dangerous and can cause electric shocks, severe burns, electrocutions and house fires. Anyone attempting to bypass meters puts people who work and live in the property and surrounding area in danger, as well as the engineers who have to repair and replace equipment and wiring.

A London landlord was caught stealing electricity worth over £90,000 and passed the savings on to his tenants, however, this act was putting his tenants in severe danger. Not only was he ordered to repay the £90,000, he was also sentenced to nine months in jail - saved from a longer sentence as he had no previous convictions.

In another example, a son living with his mother caused her tragic death after arranging for the meter to be bypassed so he could save some money on electricity bills. This led to electrical sparks that caused a fire and consequently, his mother died due to smoke inhalation.

Importance of speaking up

If you feel uncomfortable confronting customers directly, Stay Energy Safe offers a 24/7 reporting service via an online form or by phone on 0800 023 2777.

Stay Energy Safe, operated by the independent charity Crimestoppers, provides a secure platform for reporting energy theft.

Once Stay Energy Safe receives the report, they check and sanitise the information to ensure your anonymity and send it to the relevant energy supplier so that the case can be investigated.

If something doesn't look right, it probably isn't. More engineers speaking up means more lives saved and fewer tragedies.