Picture of property destroyed by fire

Energy networks warn of huge rise in meter tampering

There has been an almost 400 per cent rise in incidents of meter tampering and interference with electrical equipment, energy operators say. And they warn that the trend will continue to rise in 2022.

Illegal meter tampering was identified as the cause of a fire that gutted a property in Glasgow and led to a woman’s death. Police say the fire was started by a spark from a prepayment meter that had been illegally bypassed.

The rise in tampering and electrical equipment interference means that householders are at risk of further incidents, says the Energy Networks Association (ENA), which represents electricity and gas network operators. Operators are seeing DIY attempts at meter tampering that frequently lead to live electricity conductors being exposed or unsealed holes in gas supply pipes.

David Spillett, ENA’s head of Safety, Health and Environment, has issued a warning to households, saying: “Tampering with your meter can create a ticking time bomb in your home. The UK’s electrical and gas engineers are highly trained professionals who ensure your home’s power system is entirely safe. Tampering with their work risks serious harm to yourself, neighbours and your loved ones and damage to your property that will not be covered by insurance. It’s just not worth the risk.

“If you are struggling to pay your energy bill, please speak to your energy supplier or contact Citizen’s Advice for free and impartial advice.”

Peter Smith, director of policy at fuel poverty charity National Energy Action, says: “Given the recent relentless increases in energy bills, we know 6.7 million UK households are now in fuel poverty. The crisis is fuelling many types of unsafe and dangerous coping strategies in the home as millions try and adjust to record high bills.

“This worrying research indicates tampering with energy meters is now on the rise and while the motives, scale and the impact of related injuries or incidents is still largely unknown, it’s right to warn people of the risks.

“Meter tampering can be exceptionally dangerous and in extreme incidents can be life threatening – not only to the perpetrators but also nearby neighbours.”

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