Households are being put in physical danger, and losing money to energy theft, according to Crimestoppers.
The charity is warning that not only does energy theft add an average £20 to each household bill every year, but also puts lives at risk if meters are tampered with.
Crimestoppers is asking members of the public to be ‘Stoppers not Spotters’ by reporting anyone they suspect of energy theft to its Stay Energy Safe Service, which offers a dedicated phone number and online form to pass on information about energy crime anonymously.
Rodger Holden, director of Crimestoppers, says: “Energy theft is one of those crimes that people don’t think affects them, but that could not be further from the truth. A tampered meter creates a huge safety risk that can lead to an explosion or fire – imagine it was your neighbour stealing energy – would you turn a blind eye?
“Not only are the meter cheaters stealing energy, but they are stealing our money too. This is why we are asking for the public’s help – to be stoppers not spotters. If you know someone tampering with a meter, then we want to know about it."
The dangers of energy theft are highlighted with the case of Nadeem Mughal, 52, jailed in May for three years for tampering with his gas meter.
Mr Mughal pleaded guilty to criminal damage. He put neighbours lives at risk by twice tampering with his gas meter, which could have caused an explosion in a block of flats that could have affected up to 20 neighbours in Leicester.
Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, the UK's official gas registration scheme, says: “Gas appliances should only be handled by registered engineers as they can become unsafe and can cause fires, explosions, or carbon monoxide poisoning that could put you, your family and your neighbours at risk.
“We recommend getting your gas appliances checked every year by a Gas Safe registered engineer so you know they are working safely and efficiently.”
In 2016, Crimestoppers launched the Stay Energy Safe anonymous service for the public to report energy crime.
If you have any information on anyone committing an energy crime you can contact Stay Energy Safe on 0800 023 2777 or fill out a secure online form on its website.