Theft of gas can pose serious danger - interfering with gas pipes or meters is a very dangerous thing to do, putting not just your own safety on the line but that of others in your own and neighbouring properties. It can also carry hefty repercussions for those found guilty.
We have a responsibility as a gas distribution network to play our part in the detection and prevention of gas theft.
As per our transportation licence governed by Ofgem, we have a responsibility to investigate and use reasonable endeavours to recover charges relating to unregistered usage. Here are some important details about gas theft, helping you take the right action if you suspect gas meter theft is taking place and how to report gas theft.
Unregistered gas usage is when a customer has a meter on site which is not registered to a supplier on the National Database Xoserve. This means that, although gas is being used on site, there is no gas supplier registered to track and charge for usage.
If you believe that your property is not registered, you can confirm on ‘Find my Supplier’ website. If no MPRN can be found, you would need to contact a supplier of your choice to initiate the meter number creation process with us.
Who investigates unregistered gas theft?
When it comes to unregistered supplies, the allegation will be investigated by our theft of gas team, if the theft occurs in an area not covered by us, the relevant gas distribution network to that locality. Find out who your network operator is.
If the supply is registered and there is a suspicion that meter tampering has occurred, we will share the details with the relevant shipper.
When the meter can’t track the gas usage, the utility company are unable to charge the right amount of money for utility bills. This potentially means that other people are paying extra to make up for the amount of money lost through the actions of those who choose to steal gas.
Aside from the financial implications of gas theft, there are also serious dangers posed by the methods used in gas meter tampering. There is an increased risk of a gas leak occurring, potentially leading to a fire or explosion. This means it’s vitally important to report any times when you can smell gas and can’t explain the source.
If you do smell gas, call the National Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999.
How to spot gas meter tampering
If you’re renting a property or have just moved in, you may be living in a property where gas theft is taking place without even knowing it. It’s a good idea to check your meter when you move in to ensure you stay safe. If you’re in doubt, please visit ‘Find my supplier’. If there is no supplier, please contact us. If there is a supplier, please contact the relevant provider to address any concerns.
Here are some signs of gas meter theft to look out for when examining your gas meter:
- Meter turned around – If the meter has been turned back-to-front, there’s a chance this has been done to hide the original dials and is a sure sign of meter tampering.
- Smell gas – The smell of gas around the meter means there’s definitely something wrong. You should immediately call 0800 111 999.
- Dials not moving/disappeared – If you can no longer see the meter dials, or they’ve stopped moving, there’s a chance that your gas meter has been altered to steal gas.
- Rubber piping – All gas meters use metal piping so, if this has been substituted for rubber piping, your gas meter has been changed from its original state and should be checked.
- Gas working without credit – If you live in a property with a pay-as-you-go meter and the credit has run out, but you still have a supply of gas, this is a sign the meter has been tampered with.
Checking for these signs of gas meter tampering is a good idea whenever you move into a new property, however it’s vitally important that you do not tamper with anything on the meter for your own safety.
It is advised that you take a photo of your meter when you first move into a new property and contact a supplier to complete registration.
Does stealing gas carry a penalty?
Stealing gas is punishable by law. The maximum penalty for gas theft is 5 years in prison and a fine of up to £2,000. This severe punishment shows just how serious the act of gas theft is and how it’s something that should be treated with the utmost gravity. If you suspect gas theft in a property or have recently moved in and think there’s evidence of gas meter fraud, you should report it.