The energy watchdog has called for new action from suppliers to tackle gas theft – where criminals bypass gas meters and cost households a total £138million each year.
Ofgem claims that the theft of gas puts lives at risk and costs every household £6 annually.
It wants suppliers to get better at recognising and preventing gas theft and establish minimum standards for investigations.
It wants the 3,000 cases that are detected each year to double to 6,000 and today proposed the energy industry toughens its measures to tackle gas theft.
- New licence conditions which would enable Ofgem to force suppliers to introduce new provisions for detecting theft.
- Requiring suppliers to set up a cross industry theft risk assessment service to help them target investigations.
- Developing principles for an incentive scheme to give suppliers new reasons to detect theft.
- Supporting development of an industry code of practice on conducting theft investigations.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT GAS THEFT
Ofgem says that if people suspect gas theft they are advised to contact their supplier (or network operator).
If people smell gas they should phone the gas emergency number on 0800 111999 whether they suspect theft or not as safety must always come first.
It also wants a 24-hour theft hotline to report suspected theft, a stolen meters register to identify where meters have been illegally switched and a forum for sharing best practice between suppliers and better co-ordination with other agencies.
Andrew Wright, senior partner for markets at Ofgem, said: ‘We want to see suppliers take more action to reduce gas theft, which threatens the safety of consumers and industry workers as well making gas more expensive.
‘This announcement today sets out a package of reforms that will help ensure the industry takes all reasonable steps to detect, investigate and prevent theft. We are pleased that the industry is also putting forward its own initiatives to tackle this problem.‘