A takeaway owner in Leeds was found guilty of stealing over £15,000 worth of gas over more than 10 years.
A British Gas revenue protection officer caught Ming Wong in July 2017 after spotting signs of meter tampering.
The officer fitted the takeaway’s meter with ‘anti-tamper tape’ before returning a month later to inspect. When Wong’s energy consumption increased by 33% in that month, the officer knew that he was stealing.
Paying the price
Wong started an account with British Gas in 2007, 3 years after taking over the lease to the “Happy House” takeaway. The inspection revealed that the meter had been moved backwards on a weekly basis, meaning he was probably stealing gas for over 10 years.
The total value of stolen gas is estimated at £15,690, which Wong will have to pay back – and he’ll have to pay an investigation fee on top too.
Wong now owes British Gas £16,634 and will serve a 9-month prison sentence. He must also complete 240 hours of unpaid work.
His story shows that there really is no such thing as free energy. With no previous convictions, Wong ended up in a much worse position than if he’d paid what he owed from the start. Now with a criminal record and his business in jeopardy, the takeaway owner faces a lifetime of consequences.
Close to disaster
The officer found damage to the meter casing, which is a tell-tale, but worrying, sign of tampering. In this case, it was lucky that officers spotted the theft before any disasters happened.
But this story could have had a very different ending if the tampering had caused a gas leak and a potential explosion.
Unfortunately, unhappy endings happen more often than you’d think – read about the London business owner who caused his employee’s death when he bypassed the electricity meter.
Gas theft is an avoidable crime
It can happen anywhere, and at any time. Even your local café or takeaway might be tampering with their meters and putting your life at risk.
You don’t need to keep any worries or suspicions to yourself. Reporting energy theft only takes a few minutes and could help prevent a tragic accident.
If you see something, say something. Tampering with a meter is illegal and dangerous – and these criminals must be reported.
We’re here to help. Even if you’re not sure that theft is taking place, you should report anything unusual you see to stayenergysafe, 100% anonymously.