A quarter of all electricity theft is drug-related A quarter of all electricity theft is drug-related

A quarter of all electricity theft is drug-related

Research from Direct Line for Business finds that nearly a quarter of all electricity theft has been for its suspected use in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs

  • So far in 2016, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of police investigations into the illegal abstraction, or theft of, electricity have been for its suspected use in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs
  • Merseyside Police has investigated more cases this year than any other constabulary for the illegal theft of electricity in connection with suspected use in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs
  • Theft of electricity investigations increased by 38 per cent between 2013 and 2015
  • A Landlord in Leicester was awarded £14,708 to repair damage after the tenant used the property to grow cannabis

London, 31st August 2016: New analysis1 by Direct Line for Business Landlord Insurance reveals almost a quarter (24 per cent) of police investigations in 2016 into the illegal abstraction or theft of electricity, has been for its suspected use in the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs. Forces have investigated 866 cases where they suspected electricity was being stolen from the grid illegally. Across England and Wales already this year, police forces have investigated 207 cases where it was suspected electricity was being stolen to aid in the production of illegal narcotics.

This compares to 2015, when police forces investigated 2,540 cases where electricity theft was suspected and in 654 of these incidents it was found that power was being abstracted to aid the production of illegal drugs. The research suggests theft of electricity is a growing problem; cases investigated involving the illegal abstraction of electricity has increased by 38 per cent between 2013 and 2015. In these cases, criminals will steal electricity for drug cultivation to avoid paying costly bills associated with powering heat and UV lamps for cannabis production, and to attempt to avoid detection for high energy consumption.

Across England and Wales, Greater Manchester police have investigated the highest number of suspected cases of illegal electricity abstraction, tackling 150 incidents in 2016 so far and 425 in 2015.  West Yorkshire Police have investigated the second highest number of cases in 2016 with 139 incidents examined, followed by Merseyside Police with 89.  When it comes to cases involving electricity being stolen for use in the cultivation and manufacture of illegal narcotics, Merseyside Police have investigated the most in 2016 with 40 incidents, followed by Greater Manchester Police with 39 and West Yorkshire Police with 37.

Table One: Abstraction of electricity investigations by police forces in England and Wales, 2015 and 2016

Police Force

Abstraction of electricity investigations 2016 YTD

Greater Manchester Police


West Yorkshire Police


Merseyside Police


Metropolitan Police Service


Northumbria Police


West Midlands Police


Nottinghamshire Police


Lancashire Constabulary


Humberside Police


South Wales Police


England and Wales police force average


Source: Direct Line for Business 2016

Nick Breton, Head of Direct Line for Business said: “Theft of electricity and meter tampering is extremely dangerous and can easily result in injury and cause major property fires.  For landlords who pass the care of their property over to a tenant, the cost of repairs where the meter has been damaged can be significant.  If electricity is being stolen to aid the production of illegal drugs, it is likely the property will also suffer from other damage, such as mould and damp.  Landlords should have their properties regularly inspected to check for any signs of illegal activity.

Criminals will steal electricity by tampering with the property’s meter, or bypassing this and taking it from neighbouring houses or street lights.  In homes, they may tamper with the meter or bypass it completely to steal power, preventing the device reading electricity consumption and undercharging.  Electricity tampering may also impact neighbouring properties. 

Criminals risk significant injury, as a domestic electricity meter contains 240 volts and those tampering with the device risk shocks and burns and could start an electrical fire.  Anyone caught illegally diverting or stealing electricity can be liable for a prison term of up to five years2

Examples of malicious damage claims involving cannabis production handled by Direct Line for Business3:

  • In March 2015, a policyholder was awarded £14,708 to repair malicious damage caused to their property in Leicester after the tenant had used the home to grow cannabis  
  • A landlord in Shrewsbury, West Midlands, received £11,921.75 from Direct Line for Business to repair their property and the neighbouring home after the tenants had been cultivating cannabis.  The walls and floors of the property were covered in black mould and the electricity meter had been bypassed
  • A Policyholder in Swansea successfully claimed for £7,570.47 after a cannabis factory was discovered in ten properties after the tenants had fled. 

Signs tenants in your rental property may be stealing electricity, or tampering with the meter

  • No casing on the electricity meter or damage to the casing
  • Additional wires attached to the meter
  • On a pay as you go’ meter, the credit reading is zero, but electricity is still available in the property
  • Burn marks on the exterior casing or melting of casing and wires around the meter

For further details on Direct Line for Business landlord insurance visit https://www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk/landlord-insurance/malicious-damage-by-tenants-cover

Notes to Editors

1 Direct Line for Business’ analysis of data supplied in response to a Freedom of Information Act request issued to the UK’s police forces on 23rd May 2016.   Data based on responses received from 41 of the UK’s police forces.  The data therefore will under represent the scale of cases investigating the illegal abstraction of electricity for the cultivation or manufacture of illegal drugs.

2 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1968/60/section/13

3 Analysis of Direct line for Business claims data on malicious damage by tenants claims for landlord insurance polices 2013-2016 (year to date)

4 Malicious Damage by Tenants cover can be added to Direct Line’s landlord insurance policy as an optional extra. Qualifying Criteria applies. Claims dealt with on a case by case basis. Underwritten by UK Insurance Limited.

For further information please contact:

Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Antonia Green
Tel: 020 7282 2967
Email: antonia.green@citigatedr.co.uk

Direct Line for Business
Jade Trimbee
PR Manager
Tel: 0137 283 9452
Mobile: 07825 315 931
Email: jade.trimbee@directlinegroup.co.uk

Direct Line for Business

Launched in 2007 Direct Line for Business provides a range of insurance products for the small business sector direct by phone or online.

Direct Line for Business insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line for Business and U K Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line for Business products or get a quote by calling 0345 301 4827 or visiting www.directlineforbusiness.co.uk

Landlord Insurance Press Release

ADDED: 31st August 2016