A landlord offers free electricity to his tenants – meter is found on the verge of catching fire
A London landlord was ordered to repay more than £90,000 in stolen electricity that he had passed on to his tenants, risking their personal safety in the process – and sentenced to nine months in jail for his crime.
The divorced father-of-two was able to make the lump sum payment from a large amount of cash savings found by police in his house. He was saved from a longer sentence of up to five years because he has no previous convictions and made no personal financial gain from the crime. This particular landlord passed on all the savings to his tenants – but unwittingly put them at huge personal risk.
Young families at risk from meter tampering
The landlord, based in north London, owns 22 properties that had been fitted with illegal meters, and many of which are flats with adjoining properties that were also at risk.
Bypassing meters put his tenants and their neighbours – including young families – at risk of personal injury or even death. They had a very lucky escape this time.
This is unfortunately a very typical example – and stayenergysafe urges anyone living in rented accommodation to make certain that they know their meters are correctly fitted, so that they do not put their own families at risk.
Energy theft can be extremely dangerous and costs lives. If you suspect it anywhere, report it to stayenergysafe completely anonymously.
Source: The Tottenham Independent
There’s no such thing as free electricity
Free electricity? Free gas? Wouldn’t it be great if all those bills would just disappear? Like the landlord in this story, many people unwittingly put their families and neighbours at risk by tampering with or bypassing electricity and gas meters in the vain attempt to get energy for free.
Some people think they can beat the system and get electricity for free by messing with the meter so it doesn’t record the correct amount of electricity that’s been used. Sometimes the meter will record a lower amount of electricity consumption or will not record any consumption at all. Apart from being illegal, the problem with this is that meddling with something like mains electricity is extremely dangerous and comes with extortionate risks.
Some people also try to bypass their electricity meter completely to try to get electricity for free. This is equally dangerous and should never be considered as a way to save money.
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you may want to consider a pre-payment meter or read this helpful article which shares hints, tips for reducing your bills and links to organisations that may be able to help.
Meddling with electricity meter is not safe
The stories of fatal fires and explosions cause by people stealing gas and electricity are few and far between – perhaps only a handful occur in the UK every year. But the reality is that it can still be really harmful to people and pets, and it is a criminal offence. Electric shocks, burns, small fires, gas leaks, damage to property and possessions – and then a fine from the energy company and risk of criminal prosecution – are much more common consequences.
The real cost of energy theft
If it is found that a meter has been tampered with on your property, the most likely outcome is an on-the-spot fine of £2,000, plus the cost of the call-out and a replacement meter. Landlords, tenants and property owners alike may also find it difficult to insure their property in the future.
In the most horrific cases, energy theft does cause physical harm, as in these real life stories:
What you can do if you’re at risk
If you are an innocent victim or think you or someone you know might be at risk from a tampered or bypassed electricity meter you can help to resolve the problem and it only takes a few minutes.
You can either report the information you know through our online form, or call the stayenergysafe phone line on 0800 023 2777. The phone line is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
Whether online or via phone, any information you share with stayenergysafe will be dealt with 100% anonymously, so you can rest assured that no one will ever know it was you.
Crimestoppers will pass the information you share with the industry for further investigation. If it’s found that you, your family, or colleagues are at risk – whether at home or at work – then experienced professionals will ensure that the property is made safe.