The Gardai and An Bord Gais have confirmed they are investigating the tampering of several gas meters in the Louth area, The Dundalk Democrat has learned.
A spokesperson from An Bord Gais stated that Louth is one of the areas where they have noted an increase in gas meter tampering.
The rise has been detected since September 2013. Cases have also been confirmed in Dublin, Meath, Kildare and Cork.
A spokesperson from An Bord Gais confirmed that criminals are targeting customers in the metering scam.
The illegal operators have been calling to homeowners in the area asking if they want cheaper gas.
For a fixed fee, the criminals actually break the gas meter and tamper with equipment.
This causes a serious health and safety risk to family and neighbours, according to An Bord Gais.
Interference with gas poses a serious safety threat.
The emergency services may be called to the premises in the event of a fire, leak, gas or detection of tampering.
The public who suspect they may have been a target of this crime or aware of known cases of tampering are asked to contact the grid operator on 1850200694 or the gardai.
An Bord Gais has been actively engaged in identifying and making safe installations where tampering has been found and is hoping to raise awareness on the dangers of tampering and in turn stamp it out.
The company said it 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.”
By law, only Bord Gáis Network s 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.
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 Act will be liable to pay a fine of up to €5,000 and or imprisonment of up to six months.
To date, according to An Bord Gais, there have been three criminal convictions in Dublin and a further four cases are pending prosecution in the Munster area.