Energy theft news
Energy theft news

Boston supermarket electricity heist

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Be alert to danger Report energy crime. Call 0800 023 2777
electricity

Over £30,000 worth of electricity was stolen in an extremely dangerous case of meter tampering in a supermarket in Boston, Lincolnshire.

The criminals stole the electricity by bypassing an electricity meter which was labelled as a “danger to life” and was immediately disconnected following its discovery.

Boston supermarket electricity theft

Image Credit: Google Street View

Deception and intimidation

The meter was found hidden behind a tower of boxes and, ironically, a health and safety poster. The fact that the meter was disguised in the first place was a tell-tale sign of wrongdoing – and was a clear sign to investigation officers that there was more to look into.

Engineers arranged two surprise visits to get to the bottom of it. One of the visits was unexpectedly cut short when the supermarket staff would not allow them access. On a third, pre-arranged visit, broken seals were found on the transformer chamber.

The chief constable wrote: “The engineer suspected that the customer had bridged the metal arms coming out of the current transformer which would give free electricity and the zero readings recorded.”

The equipment was re-sealed, but not long after, signs of continued theft appeared. Staff intimidated engineers when they arrived to investigate again – only to find that the seals had been broken again.

Passing the blame

In an attempt to avoid taking responsibility for the tampering, the store manager blamed the electrician for the dodgy work being done.

tampered electricity meter in boston supermarket

Image Credit: LincolnshireLive

The staff even went so far to explain the low energy usage at the site by saying that “the fridges are only switched on for half a day and switched off at night.” The claims were investigated by environmental health over concerns for the safety of perishable foods being kept in the fridges.

A danger to life

The supermarket has already paid £15,000 towards the bill, and a weekly payment plan has been agreed to repay the rest. The police are also campaigning to have the shop’s licence removed in an attempt to prevent them from trying to tamper again.

stayenergysafe

It’s worryingly common to see businesses try to cut corners to save money on their bills. But it’s rare to see a case as severe as in this example – being labelled a “danger to life” is a serious matter.

Your reports to stayenergysafe matter. You could be helping to put an end to potential criminal activity – but more importantly, you’ll be doing your bit to keep your community safe, completely anonymously. Read more about our policies on anonymity here, or report your suspicions here today.

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Report anonymously

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.

If you spot energy theft anywhere, report it anonymously now.