There have been almost 1,500 cases of the gas meter tampering in Ireland in the last two years, an act which is life-threatening.
Gas Networks Ireland say there have been 1,475 cases reported across 19 counties since 2014.
Cork is one of the counties with the highest prevalence of gas meter tampering. Other counties with a high rate of tampering are Dublin, Carlow and Limerick.
“Tampering with a gas meter is dangerous, exposing people to the risk of a gas explosion, fire, injury or even death,” said a spokesperson for Gas Networks Ireland.
The act of tampering with a gas meter is also a criminal offence.
“Due to the dangers involved, gas meter tampering is a criminal offence with possible prison sentences and heavy fines [of up to €5,000] for those found guilty of the crime,” said the spokesperson.
The network has been working to identify gas meters that have been tampered with. The network has also been working with members of the public, from whom it receives tip-offs to help identify installations that have been interfered with. When a meter is identified as having been tampered with, the network has then repaired it to make it safe again.
“The methods of interfering with gas meters vary, but in all cases it is dangerous and illegal. By interfering unlawfully with gas meters, those tampering are not only putting their own safety at risk, but also the safety of their families and neighbours. The consequences of gas meter tampering can be fatal,” said Owen Wilson who is the networks safety manager.
Mr Wilson added that only a select number of people can work on gas meters, and that the company works closely with the gardaí, to ensure this.
“Gas Networks Ireland and An Garda Síochána adopt a rigorous approach to enforcement of the law in this area.
“By law, only Gas Networks Ireland 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.
“Safety is our number one concern and we will not tolerate the actions of a small number of people putting the lives of others at risk,” he stated.
Mr Wilson was speaking as Gas Networks Ireland launched a public-awareness campaign to highlight the life-threatening dangers posed by gas meter tampering.
Aidan Hogan, the network’s revenue protection manager, said that when someone tampers with a meter, everyone’s safety is compromised.
He said anyone wishing to find out more about gas meter tampering can start by reading the the information online at www.gasnetworks. ie/metertampering.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved