Energy theft costs us all
Our energy theft infographic shows the personal – and financial – cost of energy theft to people, property and communities right across the UK.
If you have concerns about energy theft in your community report it anonymously.
Energy theft is all around you
More than 150,000 suspected cases of energy theft are investigated every year in the UK. And in many instances, the people under investigation may have been stealing electricity or gas at multiple properties or businesses over a long period of time, putting innocent people at risk.
When energy meters are tampered with or bypassed, there is a risk of electrical shocks, fires, gas leaks and even explosions, which is why this is considered such a dangerous crime and can be prosecuted.
Energy theft happens in cities, towns and villages throughout the UK, from people’s homes, to workplaces, to cafes and restaurants, to shops, factories and farms. It is all around – and it’s reported that it takes place as much in residential properties, as it does in businesses and commercial units. It’s just as likely that people are messing with their meters in rural places as it is in built-up locations.
If you’re aware of energy theft taking place you can report it anonymously to stayenergysafe.
Criminal charges of energy theft
In many cases, when people are found guilty of stealing electricity or gas, they are simply asked to pay back what they owe – but in many instances a fine may also be charged – and 1,500 people are charged with the criminal offence of energy theft every single year.
A £2,000 fine is quite usual for cases of energy theft, but one case reported that a London man was fined £50,000 for damaging the power supply to over 15,000 homes.
Criminals that are convicted of energy theft or meter tampering will have a criminal record, may find themselves no longer able to run or own a business, or may be unable to insure a property. This can have serious implications for the future.
Whether it’s at a residential or business property, if revenue protection officers catch someone stealing electricity, the offender will usually have their gas or electricity supply cut off immediately and will receive a bill on the spot for the amount of energy owed. They’ll usually have to pay for the cost of the call-out and safe replacement of the meter too.
There are lots of real life cases of energy theft of our website.
Energy theft affects everyone
At stayenergysafe, we are committed to helping people stay safe from the risks of energy theft, especially those people in our society who are most vulnerable, and who may be put at risk.
Sometimes the people who tamper with meters do so with the best of intentions – perhaps trying to help those they love save money on bills. But energy theft is never safe and poses a risk to life.
There’s also a financial cost of energy theft. It’s estimated that it costs the industry at least £440 million every year, and the costs are passed on to innocent bill payers. Reports show that an average of £20 is added to every household bill every year as a result of this crime.
A better way to save money on energy bills
If you need help paying bills, especially in cold weather, you may be eligible for extra help. Our recent article shares practical hints, tips and links to help if you’re struggling to pay energy bills.
A pre-payment meter may help you keep control of your energy bills. With a pre-payment meter you pay upfront for your energy and receive a credit to then use it. It means that you’re in control of how much energy you use and can help you see how much the energy you use costs you. Find out more about the pros and cons of using pre-payment energy meters here.
To find useful information to help you become more energy efficient, and to make the most of all the grants and payments available to help you pay your electricity bills, follow this link.
Report any concerns anonymously
The stayenergysafe service was set up specifically to make it easy to report suspicions anonymously online or over the phone.
You can report any information you have about energy theft to us 24 hours a day 365 days a year – either by filling in an online form or calling the phone line. It’s free to call the phone line on 0800 023 2777.
All information you share with us will be handled with the Crimestoppers guarantee of anonymity.
The more information you are able to give, then the easier it will be for investigators to follow up your concerns. Even if you don’t know the exact details, we’d still like to hear what you know – small parts of a story, from lots of people, can help us build up a picture of patterns of behaviour, and help us keep you and your family energy safe.