Bord Gáis Networks today (Monday, 14th July, 2014) launched a nationwide public awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the serious safety issues posed by the rise of natural gas meter tampering in Ireland. Members of the public are encouraged to confidentially report suspected or known cases of tampering to the grid operator on 1850 200 694.
Supported by print and outdoor advertising, a national radio campaign, a leaflet drop directly to homes and an online ‘frequently asked questions’, the campaign delivers hard-hitting messages on the dangers of gas meter tampering; the risk of prosecution if convicted; and details on how to confidentially report known or suspected cases of tampering, the dangers of which were also recently highlighted on RTÉ’s Crimecall.
With the incidence of meter tampering on the rise, the national grid operator has detected in excess of 500 cases since September 2013, with confirmed cases in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Cork, Waterford and Louth. The company has been actively engaged in identifying and making safe installations where tampering has been found and is, via this campaign, hoping to raise awareness on the dangers of tampering and in turn stamp it out. As a part of this, the company acknowledges and is grateful for the increased numbers of tip-offs it has received from concerned members of the public and is keen for this to continue.
“Tampering with a gas meter is a serious public safety concern.” says Owen Wilson, Head of Safety with Bord Gáis Networks. “By tampering with a meter, people are not just putting their own safety at risk, but the safety of their families, neighbours and the general public. The consequences could be costly or even fatal.” He continues “By law, only Bord Gáis Networks representatives are authorised to work on natural gas meters and it is illegal to ask, pay or allow someone else to tamper with your meter.”
The Commission for Energy Regulation (CER) has welcomed today’s safety initiative from Bord Gáis Networks. Paul McGowan, Commissioner with the CER says
“People are putting their lives at risk if they tamper or allow anyone else to tamper with their gas meter. Only Bord Gáis Networks personnel and/or their representatives are authorised to work on gas meters. It is vitally important that people contact Bord Gáis Networks if they have any information about illegal meter tampering”.
Today’s campaign brings to the public’s attention that those who tamper with their own or others’ meters are guilty of a criminal offence and thereby liable for prosecution.
Those convicted of an offence under sections of the Energy Act¹, will be liable to pay a fine of up to €5,000 and / or imprisonment of up to six months. To date, there have been three criminal convictions in Dublin and a further four cases are pending prosecution in the Munster area.2
Con O’Donnell, Revenue Protection Manager3 with the networks operator clarifies that each reported case is subject to a “rigorous process”. “Meter tampering is being treated very seriously, in particular if there is any sense that safety is an issue.” He continues “The safety of the network and of all of our customers is paramount and this is clearly compromised by those involved in this illegal practice.”