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Energy theft is something that businesses, landlords, homeowners and housing associations are all at risk of. It’s a highly dangerous crime and causes problems for both energy suppliers and consumers, with an estimated £440 million worth of gas and electricity stolen each year.

Even with these shocking statistics, 39% of the UK public are unaware of the dangerous risks energy theft proposes to their safety.

So what is energy theft exactly, and what can businesses do to prevent the potentially life-threatening crime?

What is energy theft?

Energy theft is when a person steals gas or electricity or attempts to bypass or tamper with their energy meter. The techniques and methods behind energy theft can be as varied as digging up streets to divert energy supplies to using a smartphone to reverse an energy meter.

It’s also sometimes known as “meter cheating”, but it means any activity that involves finding ways to consume energy without it being properly measured, recorded or paid for.

The dangers of energy theft

Energy theft is not just a criminal act, it’s also incredibly dangerous. Not only is it a massive risk to those committing the crime, but it endangers those surrounding them.

Messing with gas or electrical equipment can have fatal consequences. Tampering with a gas supply carries a high risk of causing a gas leak, which can cause gas fumes to build up and could lead to people in the vicinity falling unconscious. The gas fumes are also flammable and can cause huge explosions.

Interfering with a building’s electricity supply can cause shocks, burns and even death by electrocution to anyone who touches an appliance or switch that’s connected to a tampered supply. Exposed wires can also lead to building fires.

What is the law around energy theft?

Anyone convicted of energy theft can face up to five years in prison and a fine of £2,000. If property is damaged or people are harmed due to the energy theft, this sentence will become more severe.  

How to notice the signs of energy theft

There are a few standout signs that energy theft is happening in your home or business:

  • Wires are poking out from your meter in odd ways

  • Your meter casing is smashed, broken or missing

  • There is rubber tubing around your pipes

  • There is a gas or burning smell near the meter

  • Your bills have dramatically decreased for no reason

What can you do to protect yourself from energy theft?

You should always be aware of what’s going on with your energy supply whether you’re a domestic customer or a business owner. Keep an eye out for anything that may have recently changed with your building and if you think you have come across an example of energy fraud, you can call the stayenergysafe reporting line on 0800 023 2777 and speak directly to a person to report it anonymously.

If you are looking to save money on your energy bills, why not see if investing in a smart meter will be beneficial to your business? For a quicker solution, take a look at our blog on the top 10 energy saving tips for the office.