Energy theft, or meter tampering, is a serious national issue which impacts regular consumers. Energy theft is where someone deliberately alters their gas or electricity meter, so that it appears as though they use less energy than they really do.
Industry estimates suggest that some £400 million worth’ of energy is stolen from utility companies every year in the United Kingdom. Ultimately, the victim of energy theft is not the utility companies, however, it is regular consumers, because utility companies pass the losses onto consumers, by way of bumping up their energy prices.
What is being done about it?
Ofgem has created rules for utility companies, which state that they must play an active role in detecting, investigating and preventing fraud. It is also important to note that the law makes it very clear that energy theft and meter tampering is illegal.
Energy theft, meter tampering and the law
People who have stolen energy can be prosecuted under one or several Theft laws, including:
Theft Act 1968: Section 1 (for gas)
Theft Act 1968: Section 13 (for abstraction of electricity)
Theft Act 1968: Section 17 (false accounting, business)
Theft Act 1978: Section 1 (dishonestly obtain services by deception)
People can also be prosecuted under Criminal Damage laws, including:
Criminal Damage Act 1971: Section 1 (causing criminal damage)
Criminal Law Act 1977: Section 1 (conspiracy)
The maximum sentence under Section 13 of the Theft Act is 5 years’ imprisonment and a £2,000 fine. There have been several hundred successful prosecutions to date.
How can I report energy theft and energy fraud?
If you believe that somebody has or is attempting to defraud their utility company, then you should refer the matter to the UK Revenue Protection Association (UKRPA); all communication with the UKRPA is completely confidential, and you do not have to provide your own personal details, should you wish to remain anonymous.
UKRPA Phone Number: 0207 090 1070
If you are going to report somebody for meter tampering or energy theft, please be advised that you MUST provide the person’s address to the UKRPA. If you do not provide a physical address, then the UKRPA will not be able to investigate your claim.