Warning not to tamper with your energy meters

Energy providers are warning people not to tamper with their energy meters due to the risk of house fires and electrocutions.

New figures show an almost 400% increase in reported incidents between 2017 and 2021, a trend officials predict will continue to rise.

Tampering with meters and cutting into wires or pipes to interfere with energy supplies has caused house fires, gas leaks and electrocutions. Electricity meters in UK premises are connected to a voltage that can be fatal if not installed by a qualified professional and gas meters ensure there’s a constant and safe flow of gas into a property.  

Recently, investigators identified illegal meter tampering as the cause of a tragic fire that gutted a property and led to a woman’s death. Police discovered the fire was started by a spark from a prepayment meter that had been illegally bypassed. 

Though the UK’s safety standards are some of the highest in the world, the dramatic rise in tampering and electrical equipment interference means householders are at risk of further incidents. Operators are seeing DIY attempts at meter tampering that frequently lead to live electricity conductors being exposed or unsealed holes in gas supply pipes. 

Peter Smith, Director of Policy, National Energy Action said:

“National Energy Action campaigns to ensure everyone in the UK can live in a warm and safe home. 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.”

If you smell gas, or suspect the presence of carbon monoxide, call 0800 111 999 straight away, and engineers will be there to help any time of day or night.