Police have warned against the dangers of energy theft as criminals try and get around paying sky-high gas and electricity prices.
Tampered energy meters not only increase the costs for all billpayers but can present a real danger to all the people living in a property with an inaccurate meter.
Stay Energy Safe and Crimestoppers said over £400m in energy is stolen each year across the UK, adding £20 to £30 per year to the paying customer’s bill.
The warning by Crimestoppers comes amid sky-high gas and electricity prices for people across the UK.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said as many as 40% of Brits could be struggling to pay their energy bills.
Around 40% of Brits have also cut back on the amount of food they buy.
The figures were the first piece of analysis after the £700 price cap increase in April.
They also said that nine in 10 (91%) said their cost of living had risen, up from 62% in the first fortnight of November last year.
The cost of living crisis is also set to get worse before it gets better with the Bank of England saying on Thursday they believed inflation would hit 10% this year.
They said on average families will lose around £1,200 this year to cost of living increases.
The Bank also said household disposable income will plunge by 1.75% this year – the second-highest on record – while overall real income will tumble by an unprecedented 3.25% this year and fall again in 2023 before beginning to recover.
Energy companies have also warned they expect the price cap to increase again in October just as the country heads into winter.
The Stay Energy Safe campaign warned trying to get around paying the bills could be dangerous and is illegal.
In order to falsify gas and electricity meters the mains need to be tampered with and in some cases deliberately broken.
In the case of electricity, it increases the risk of shocks, burns and fires and the supply to different parts of the property could vary wildly.
In a similar vein, gas theft can present a whole host of issues for people living in a property with a tampered meter.
Deliberately damaging the gas supply to change the meter can increase the risk of leaks, which will drastically increase the risk of fires and explosions in the house.
Too much gas in the house can also lead to headaches and even loss of consciousness.
They said the biggest signs of tampered meters are clear visible damage to the box itself, burning smells, extra wires and melted parts of the mains.