Messing with meters 'could prove deadly'
GAS users are being warned that any attempt to tamper with a meter can have potentially fatal consequences - and is a criminal offence.
Bord Gais Networks (BGN) has begun a public awareness campaign aimed at highlighting the dangers of tampering with a gas meter in an attempt to secure lower bills.
"It hasn't happened here yet, but certainly in the UK there have been cases where there was a gas leak and then an explosion.
"That's why we've launched the campaign, it's pre-emptive," a spokeswoman said.
The energy company began tracking of meter tampering last year.
Those convicted of an offence under sections of the Energy Act could be fined up to €5,000 or imprisoned for up to six months.
To date, there have been three criminal convictions in Dublin and a further four cases are pending in the Munster area.
Con O'Donnell, revenue protection manager with the networks operator, said that each reported case is subject to a "rigorous process".
"Meter tampering is being treated very seriously.
"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."
The incidence of meter tampering has been on the rise and the national grid operator has detected in excess of 500 cases since September 2013.
There have been confirmed cases in Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Cork, Waterford and Louth.
"Tampering with a gas meter is a serious public safety concern," Owen Wilson, head of safety with BGN, said.
"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."
Mr Wilson said that by law, only BGN 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.
Members of the public have been encouraged to confidentially report suspected or known cases of tampering to the grid operator on 1850 200 694.