Can you go to jail for stealing gas?
Tampering with a gas meter is illegal. Gas theft is a dangerous crime that puts lives at risk.
Criminals who try to meddle with their gas meter are playing a dangerous game. If caught, offenders are likely to be slapped with a hefty fine and can even face a jail sentence. The maximum penalty for gas theft is 5 years in prison and up to £2,000 in fines.
Not only is there the risk of being caught and prosecuted, but meter tampering can lead to gas leaks, fires and explosions. There are many real-life stories of people who have lost their homes or even their lives as a result of attempting to steal gas.
What does a criminal who steals gas look like?
There is no set profile for what a gas theft criminal looks like. Gas meter fraud happens all around us – it can be in your local corner shop, in the takeaway restaurant down the road or even in your next-door neighbour’s home.
It can often be the last person you would suspect. A woman in her 60s was ordered to do 150 hours of community service and to pay £1,200 in legal fees after officials discovered an illegal meter in her home. Neighbours reported the smell of gas from her property before the illegal meter was found. She denied knowing about the illegal meter, however the judge found her guilty and she was forced to pay the price.
It can be hard to identify the signs of gas theft. By looking out for the following things you can help prevent a potentially fatal situation:
- 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
If you suspect that you know someone guilty of stealing gas, you should always report it.
Why do people steal gas?
While most people are aware that “fixing” their gas meters is illegal, people often do it to avoid paying the full price of their gas bill. The reality is that most people who commit gas fraud are forced to pay back what they owe, or are otherwise hit with heavy fines or even a jail sentence.
The consequences of attempted gas theft are severe and life-changing. Anyone who tries to save money on their bills this way is a criminal and must be reported.
You can 100% anonymously report any suspicions to stayenergysafe online or by calling 0800 023 2777.
If you spot energy theft anywhere, speak up anonymously now.