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Working together to tackle the menace of meter cheats

As the scourge of meter tampering continues, SELECT Members are being urged to contact Stay Energy Safe if they come across energy extraction and also pass on any examples to help the charity educate the public about the scale – and danger – of the problem

From recent feedback, it’s clear that SELECT Members are continuing to come across dangerous examples of energy extraction as they go about their day-to-day work. 

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service told in a previous edition of cabletalk that meter tampering was on the rise, with a record number of people ‘stealing’ energy in a bid to reduce their energy bills.

And with the issue showing no sign of receding, Crimestoppers is reminding Members to report any such incidents to its anonymous and free Stay Energy Safe reporting service – and has also issued a plea for real-life examples that it can use to help build awareness among consumers. 

Tampered installation found by a Member during a consumer unit change

The independent charity works alongside the energy sector to operate the high-profile Stay Energy Safe service, which aims to educate the public about the dangers of meter tampering. 

Kristina Jusyte, Network Engagement Manager for Stay Energy Safe, said: “Energy theft is a prevalent and dangerous crime. On average, 900 pieces of information about suspicious activity are passed to energy suppliers each month and the energy sector estimates that up to 250,000 incidents of energy theft go unreported every year. It’s crucial to continue to keep the issue and the dangers it poses front of mind with both consumers and electricians.

“We would therefore ask all SELECT Members who come across meter tampering and who aren’t comfortable speaking to the client or calling the police or DNO to contact Stay Energy Safe anonymously. The service is free and operates 24/7 and once we receive a tip-off it’s immediately passed to the supplier, DNO or transporter so they can begin to investigate and ensure the meter is safe.”

Stay Energy Safe says it has seen a 48%  rise in suspicions of energy theft being reported in the past few years. And Kristina added: “We don’t need to tell electricians of the physical dangers that energy extraction brings, but it’s also been estimated that the cost of dealing with meter tampering adds an average of £50 to a consumer’s annual energy bill.”

Examples of extraction

In recent months, Member companies have contacted SELECT’s Technical team with a number of examples of energy extraction and meter tampering across Scotland. 

These include one firm that went to fit an electric vehicle (EV) charge point in Fife and when the contractor turned off the isolator and began working on the board, they got a shock. 

The Member said: “We took a picture of the installation, in which you can clearly see the errant earth wire coming out of the bottom of the cutout feeding the left-hand side of the fuseboard – it’s not even through the fuse. It was a big lesson for the electrician that day!”

More images were provided by another SELECT Member firm which found evidence of energy extraction when they attended a property to change the consumer unit. The Member told us: “As you can see from the pictures, this one is particularly devious. All electrical equipment fed from the right-hand side consumer unit is off but the live is still present, with the neutral being switched via the left-hand side main switch.  

“Note that the neutral is shared and is hard to find without a single point contact phase tester. Luckily, our man on site followed our safe isolation procedures, which probably saved his life. The meter had been changed after the tamper was in place too.”

They added: “Most tampers we see involve either bypassing the meter completely or linking out terminal one and four. This was more advanced and just reinforces the need for correct safe isolation procedures during any task.”

Call for cases

Kristina said as well as being alarming, such examples were invaluable for Stay Energy Safe to build an accurate picture of the scale of the issue across Scotland and beyond.

Another image of recent energy extraction found by a SELECT Member

She told cabletalk: “We would be extremely grateful if SELECT Members could share information about any cases they come across, which will help us build awareness for the public so they can understand the dangers energy theft poses and why it is an ongoing problem. We’ve created a simple questionnaire which can be completed by Members, outlining any issues they come across. Any information received will be treated in the strictest confidence and if we intend to publish or use the information for further communication, we will ask the Member’s permission before anything is made public.”

In addition to the reporting service, SELECT Members who would like to share details of energy theft they have encountered can contact Kristina by emailing and she will forward the questionnaire.

She added: “We are grateful to all Members who do contact us and our message for anyone who finds evidence of meter tampering would be: Don’t leave it – report it to Stay Energy Safe straight away.” 


Tell-tale signs of tampering

  • Scratch, burn or carbonisation marks 

  • Exposed copper wiring and loose connections

  • Missing and bogus security seals

  • Distressed meters with additional cables 

  • Holes in credit meters

  • Official industry line taps

  • Stub joints in supply cables

  • Suspicious devices connected, e.g. insulated blocks

  • Negative monetary values on digital display


Make the call

Stay Energy Safe advises contractors how to spot if equipment has been interfered with and how to speak up and stay safe. Anyone who finds evidence of meter tampering can contact them anonymously by calling 0800 023 2777 or by visiting


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