Answers to your FAQs
Energy theft is when a person is not paying for their gas or electricity or they are paying less than they should because their meter has been tampered or bypassed.
A tampered meter is unsafe for those in the property and maybe their neighbours too. If you are aware of meter tampering it is your duty as a responsible citizen to report it. This can be via calling the anonymous stayenergysafe reporting line on 0800 023 2777 or by filling out the anonymous online form.
You can report energy theft using the anonymous form on this site, or call the stayenergysafe reporting line on 0800 023 2777 and speak directly to a person to report it anonymously.
Gas and electricity theft take place across the whole of the UK in both residential and commercial properties. This page shows you more about how energy theft is happening throughout the UK.
Anyone inside a building that has an illegally tampered or bypassed meter as well as those in adjacent properties. Families and neighbours or in commercial premises employees and members of the public are all placed at risk by energy theft. Read about real stories of energy theft here.
Energy theft is perceived to be a victimless crime but by tampering with a meter, or bypassing it completely, it can have serious implications by causing damage to people and property. It also has financial implications, and can increase your fuel bill by up to £20 each year. This page shows you more about how energy theft is happening throughout the UK.
People steal energy to avoid paying their bills. Whatever the reason for energy theft it is illegal, unsafe and could cause serious injury or death.
After you make a report, the relevant energy supplier will be notified. Each supplier has its own way of dealing with energy theft. The meter may need to be inspected by a professional and will be removed or exchanged if there is a risk to public safety.
The Crimestoppers’ promise says that:
- You can give information about crime without giving any personal details.
- We will not write down your gender, accent or apparent age.
- We will not write down any personal details you do happen to mention.
- We will make sure the information you give cannot identify you.
- We will not record your phone call.
- We will never know your phone number or location.
Crimestoppers will write a report based on the information you provide which is sent to the relevant energy company. It is also stored on a database at Crimestoppers’ call centre for a year, to allow action to be taken. Crimestoppers may keep reports for longer if they are needed for an ongoing investigation.
You should check your meters and take regular readings to review your bills and consumption levels. You should not let anybody near your meter unless you have checked their identity and confirmed they are from your supplier or network operator. If you have any suspicions about any of the properties that you and your family visit often, such as a friend’s house or a café, then you should report it anonymously.
There may be signs to suggest that energy theft is happening around you. If you have heard people in your community saying they can save you money on your gas or electricity bills, or if your landlord doesn’t allow you to access the meter in your rented property, or if you are concerned that your boss doesn’t pay anything for their gas or electricity bills, you should report it anonymously.
Electricity meter tampering can cause electrical fires and electrocutions. To find out more about the danger of electricity theft click here.
Although it can be hard to spot the signs of electricity theft, here are some things to look out for. This list is not exhaustive and if you have suspicions of anything that is not on the list below you should still always report it:
- The meter casing may be smashed, broken or removed completely and the cables disconnected
- Wires sticking out or wrapped around and connector clips attaching them to the meter
- Parts of the plastic casing melted or scorch and burn marks on the meter
- Meter shows credit has run out but electricity is still available
- Dials on the meter aren’t going around even when electricity is being used
- A smell of something burning or even smoke or sparks near the meter box
Gas explosions can happen when as little as 5-15% of gas gets mixed into the surrounding air in a room. If a gas meter is tampered with it can cause gas leaks within a property which risk fires and catastrophic explosions. To find out more about the danger of gas theft click here.
Although it can be hard to spot the signs of gas theft, here are some things to look out for. This list is not exhaustive and if you have suspicions of anything that is not on the list below you should still always report it:
- A meter that’s been turned around the wrong way so you can’t see the normal dials
- A smell of gas near the meter box
- Where pipes should be there are bits of rubber tubing instead
- There’s no visible dial or counter on the meter any more
- Meter shows credit has run out but gas is still available
- Dials on the meter aren’t going around even when gas is being used
You should be able to access your meter. If you require a key to access your meter you will need to speak with your landlord, letting agent or local council housing department. If you are concerned about a burning smell from the location where the meter is fitted, hot wires or flickering lights, you should call your local network operator immediately. They will arrange for an emergency appointment.
You should be aware of anything that seems unusual, for example if you hear comments that cause you concern, or if there is physical evidence to suggest meter tampering, for example if the meter is boxed in and inaccessible. If you suspect anything you should report it anonymously.
If you are a tenant in a multi-occupancy dwelling it is worthwhile checking the status of your meter and taking readings when you move into the property and on a regular basis. Is the meter registering electricity consumption?
You should be aware of anything that seems unusual, for example if you hear comments that cause you concern, or if there is physical evidence to suggest meter tampering, for example if the meter is boxed in and inaccessible. You may also be cautious of tenants who wish to pay large cash deposit and rental payments up front to avoid regular visits. As a landlord you should carry out regular inspections of the property to look out for any signs.
If you are suspicious of anything you should report it anonymously.
If a smart meter is tampered with is can still be unsafe and should be reported.
You can call your local network operator to find out who your electricity supplier is. Please click here for more information.
You can call the Meter Number Helpline on 0870 608 1524 to find out who your gas supplier is. Please note that calls to 0870 numbers cost 7p per minute, plus your phone company’s access charge.
If you are reporting a case of energy theft and are not responsible for the crime you will not be liable for prosecution.
Meter cheating means tampering with the meter so it doesn’t record how much electricity or gas is being used or trying to bypass the meter completely.