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    Loss of gas – Ingham 10 Jul 2024 12: 30 PM
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    Gas theft: The facts about unregistered gas usage

    Gas theft, or energy fraud, is a crime that carries serious risks financially and legally, as well as physical dangers.

    Gas theft refers to any method by which thieves avoid paying energy costs or the full price of their gas bill. In most common cases, gas theft means bypassing the gas meter, which leaves the gas supply unregulated and uncharged, or gas meter tampering, so the incorrect amount of gas is recorded. Both of these methods of gas theft are a crime with victims and penalties, and both can leave your gas meter at risk of gas leaks or fires.

    The consequences of gas theft are severe. Gas fraud is a criminal offence, meaning people who steal gas are made to pay back what they owe, are forced to pay penalties, or even serve prison time. Therefore, if you suspect gas fraud or think your meter could have been tampered with, it’s important to always report it.

    There are several ways to report gas theft:

    1. Contact us - If you live in the North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, South Yorkshire, East of England or North London get in touch with us on 0800 876 6447 or email [email protected] and report the issue. 

    2. Contact the UK Revenue Protection Association (UKRPA)  This can be done by calling 0207 090 1070 or by completing the UKRPA online fraud report form.

    3. Report anonymously If you want to anonymously report gas theft, you can head to the Stay Energy Safe website submit a report, or call 0800 023 2777 to speak to one of the Stay Energy Safe Team.

    Gas theft is a dangerous and serious crime, so it’s important to be vigilant. If you smell gas and can’t detect an obvious gas leak, make sure you report it to the National Gas Emergency number on 0800 111 999.

    If you want to report gas theft, you can do so at any time using the details we’ve listed above. You don’t need to provide any personal details unless you want to – you’ll only be required to detail the crime you suspect is being committed. Once you’ve reported your suspicion of gas theft, the claim will be investigated thoroughly. If it’s found a crime has taken place, the police will get involved and the appropriate action will be taken against the thief. Again, you will remain anonymous throughout the process.

    There are various methods thieves use to steal gas, from unregistered usage to tampering with gas meters. Some of these methods, such as gas meter tampering, come with physical danger and financial implications – they can often result in other people paying more. Here is more information on some of the ways people steal gas:

    Unregistered usage

    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 will investigate. 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.

    Gas meter tampering methods

    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.

    Yes – if a thief can access your meter, they can tamper with it. Usually, a thief would only tamper with a meter and commit gas fraud if it benefits them, so be extra vigilant when you’ve first moved into a property or if you share a gas meter with neighbours.

    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.

    Gas theft is a crime, so it carries multiple penalties. As well as fines and possible prison time, it’s important to remember that tampering with gas meters and gas fraud is not a victimless crime. Gas fraud costs taxpayers millions a year, and the cost of unpaid gas can cause price hikes – meaning those who pay their bills can be directly affected by thieves.

    As well as the financial ramifications, tampering with gas meters creates a huge physical risk that can even lead to loss of life. Gas theft leaves meters at greater risk of gas leaks, fires and explosions, putting everyone in the vicinity in danger. So, if you believe a gas meter has been tampered with or you think you’ve witnessed gas theft, always report it as soon as possible – it’s better to be safe.

    Stealing gas is punishable by law. You can go to prison for stealing gas, as well as receive a penalty.

    The maximum penalty for gas theft in the UK 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.

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