A spate of meter tampering could be creating a "ticking time bomb" within people's homes, an energy networks boss has warned.

Tampering with a meter means it doesn't read the correct amount of energy being used.

However, anyone caught doing it can face a £30,000 fine and even risk losing their life.

Research from Direct Line business insurance found 43% of electricians and gas engineers surveyed have been asked by customers to tamper with their meters, Sky News reports.

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Additionally, a fifth (19%) also say they either know or work with someone else who has seen signs of meter tampering.

What are the dangers of meter tampering?

Many people have resorted to meter tampering to deal with spiralling energy bills, but the practice comes with many risks.

People have caused house fires, gas leaks and electrocuted themselves when trying to cut through wires and pipes, the Energy Networks Association (ENA) said

David Spillett, head of safety, health and environment at the ENA, said: “Tampering with your meter can create a ticking time bomb in your home.

Barrhead News: The cost of living crisis and rising energy bills have seen some people resort to meter tamperingThe cost of living crisis and rising energy bills have seen some people resort to meter tampering (Image: PA)

“The UK’s electrical and gas engineers are highly trained professionals who ensure your home’s power system is entirely safe – tampering with their work risks serious harm to yourself, neighbours and your loved ones and damage to your property that will not be covered by insurance – it’s just not worth the risk.

“If you are struggling to pay your energy bill, please speak to your energy supplier or contact Citizen’s Advice for free and impartial advice.”

The warning comes days after the price of electricity and gas soared to a new record.

Although the Government has capped electricity prices at 34p per unit of electricity and 10.3p per unit of gas, households are still facing energy bills around twice as high as last year.

Between 2017 and 2021 there was a nearly 400% rise in interference with energy equipment and officials think this will continue to rise from 2022 into 2023.

David Powell, electrical installation safety engineer at Electrical Safety First, also commented: “Tampering with electricity meters is not only a criminal offence – it could cost you your life. Many people are struggling financially but it is never worth putting you or your family at risk.

"Tampering with meters exposes anyone in your household to electric shocks, burns, fire and even death. If you are struggling with your energy bills, speak directly to your energy provider.”