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The crime reporting charity Crimestoppers has received over 2,000 pieces of information on energy crime since launching its dedicated ‘stayenergysafe’ service in September 2016.
The anonymous reporting service saw Crimestoppers partner with the energy industry to offer the public an outlet to report energy crime by an anonymous, non-traceable form at stayenergysafe.co.uk, as well as through a free phone number, 0800 023 2777. The service was set up in an attempt to increase the number of incidents being reported on energy crime with the aim of keeping people safe. Energy theft and meter tampering can cause gas explosions, fires and electrocutions that can destroy properties.
Some 96 of the UK’s energy providers and distributors are working with Crimestoppers. Since launch during 2016’s Gas Safety Awareness Week (September 19 to 25), the stayenergysafe service has received over 1,850 pieces of information relating to gas, electricity or both energy types. A further 450 items have been received through Crimestoppers’ 0800 555 111 number and anonymous online form at Crimestoppers-uk.org.
Energy providers and distributors report excellent conversion rates when they conduct field investigations based upon the information received. One case identified a company that moved to a new property and, anxious to carry out their day-to-day business, connected cabling directly into the service head on the wall taking a free, unmetered supply, which carried a serious fire risk.
Another case concerned a restaurant that was bypassing its meter using dangerous wiring. The energy stolen ran into tens of thousands of pounds and the premise was taken off supply.
Around 1,500 people in the UK are charged by the police for energy theft each year. If found guilty they are likely to have to pay back the value of energy stolen, plus the costs of the investigation, but the outcome can include community service or prison sentences of up to five years.
Roger Critchell, Director of Operations for Crimestoppers, said: “There are never any guarantees that new services are going to be instantly successful, but we have been overwhelmed by the response we have received from the public. The information we have received over the year has been pretty consistent, and what this allows us to do is help to keep communities safe, because as we know, energy theft and meter tampering can lead to devastating outcomes.
“So to those who have been brave enough to provide us with information, I’d like to say thank you. And to those who might have information on energy crime, I’d reiterate that we are here for you and will handle your communication sensitively.”