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Meter Tampering is illegal and dangerous

Tampering with gas or electricity meters isn’t just dangerous – it’s also illegal.

  • Dangers - energy theft can be fatal
  • Legal consequences – fines and prison
  • Tenancy breach and losing your home
  • Support if you are struggling with energy bills

Added: 14 February 2023

Tampering or meter cheating is when a person tampers with a meter, so it doesn’t record how much electricity or gas is being used or tries to bypass the meter completely.

Energy theft is not only illegal, but incredibly dangerous and can have potentially fatal consequences. A tampered meter poses a risk to human life – for you, your family members, neighbours, and community.

Electricity theft can lead to shocks, severe burns, and electrical fires!

Tampering with an electricity meter could lead to a short circuit, wiring overheating or even a fire. Wiring that seems safe can become ‘live’, so there’s a chance of a fatal electric shock. 

Find out more at Stay Energy Safe

Gas theft can lead to lethal leaks and catastrophic gas explosions! 

Tampering with a gas meter could cause a gas leak. As well as headaches and possible loss of consciousness from the fumes, it only takes a spark to cause an explosion. 

Find out more at Stay Energy Safe

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If you are caught tampering with your supply or meter, you could receive a hefty fines up to £2,000, a criminal record or even up to five years in prison. 

Your energy supplier may cut you off supply if they suspect you have been stealing energy until a thorough investigation has been carried out.


Your insurance may not pay out if they have discovered your meter has been tampered with and your property has been damaged in the event of fire etc.

Breach of Tenancy

Tampering with your meter is also a breach of your tenancy agreement and could in us being forced into taking legal action, where you could incur court costs or lose your home.

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, help and support is available - see below.

Why you shouldn’t bypass your meter

If you have evidence of a bypassed or tampered electricity meter, or suspect someone is stealing electricity, report it to Stay Energy Safe completely anonymously.

Energy theft is a crime that usually goes unnoticed. Approximately 250,000 cases of energy theft go unreported every year, putting us all in danger. Stolen energy adds around £50 a year to the paying customer’s bill, but the real cost is the danger it brings to communities.

If you suspect energy theft you can report it 100% anonymously, 24/7, 365 days a year on 0800 023 2777 or by filling out the online form.

Stay Energy Safe is an anonymous and independent service operated by the charity Crimestoppers, so you can be confident that none of your details will be captured, and your identity can remain anonymous.

If you suspect a gas leak, leave the property and call 0800 111 999 immediately.

Energy Theft. Speak Up. Stay Safe.

In a Scottish city, a son was living with his elderly, housebound mother, when a bypassed electricity meter caused an electrical fire.

The flat they shared – within a block of eight similar properties – had been fitted with a normal pre-payment electricity meter. Under significant financial pressure, the son arranged to have the meter bypassed to save money on bill payments. A fire was caused by an electrical spark, and in an extremely harrowing series of events, his mother was unable to exit the property in time. She died due to smoke inhalation before fire officers reached the scene.

The son admitted what he had done to police and was charged with causing her death. A subsequent investigation showed that families in five of the eight flats had all bypassed their meters in the same way, endangering not just their own lives and property, but those of their neighbours and any innocent visitors.

“Hundreds could have died if the blaze took hold,” said worried neighbours who spotted a third floor flat on fire at 4.30 in the afternoon in Luton, Bedfordshire.

Luckily Firefighters were on the scene in only nine minutes but already found the flat well ablaze and the communal corridor thick with smoke affecting other homes on the same floor.

At great risk to themselves, Firefighters battled past falling cables to enter the flat and extinguish the blaze before flames spread to floors above and below. Even so, one next door flat was badly damaged by smoke and a neighbour hospitalised.

“This was a serious fire and a real risk for other occupants if it had got out of control and spread,” said Ade Yule, Borough Commander of the Bedfordshire Fire Service, “And there are 14 storeys of family homes here on Wauluds Bank.”

This fire was no accident. “It was caused by someone deliberately bypassing the energy meters,” explained Chief Fire Officer Paul Fuller. “People think it’s a clever idea and means they get gas and electricity for free. In fact it is extremely dangerous and puts themselves and everyone around them at serious risk.”

The family living in the flat were out when fire broke out. But most of their neighbours weren’t. They probably had no idea their meter tampering could have injured or killed so many people. “Everyone understands about wanting to save money,” said a spokesman, “But energy theft isn’t only illegal, it is highly dangerous. It costs huge amounts in fire damage and disruption, and it can easily cost lives as well.”

We understand these are still uncertain and worrying times for many of our customers, if you are worried to pay your energy bills, or struggling financially, help is available.

Help with Energy Bills

If you're struggling to pay, always try to contact your supplier. It's much better to get ahead of the game than to risk not paying and it is becoming a bigger problem. Many suppliers have support funds in place for people who can't afford to pay, and they're obliged to help you find a solution. Their details should be on your bill.

Energy advice from Torus Foundation

Torus Foundation have qualified Energy Advisors who are on hand to support with:

  • Fuel debt
  • Billing errors
  • Meter readings if you have difficulty doing this yourself
  • Applying for grants to help reduce your energy debts
  • Switching energy providers (if it’s the right thing to do)
  • Applying for seasonal payments
  • Paying your water bills
  • Budgeting advice

Don’t delay, contact an energy advisors today. The service is tailored to your needs, call 0300 123 5809, email or the advisor can arrange to come and see you at your home.

The Foundation also work with key national organisations, providing support that’s designed to help you make your money go further and help you to access benefits to which you’re entitled.

Struggling to Pay Your Rent

If you are experiencing financial pressures and are struggling to pay your rent, please get in touch as soon as possible, as it's better to let us know now. That way we can work with you to reach a solution.

Other support