The Signs of Electricity Theft

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Electricity theft is an illegal activity that is dangerous and may result in a felony conviction. Individuals will commit electricity theft in order to avoid paying utility and electricity bills.

Because the electricity is not turned off during a theft, it can be extremely dangerous for those involved and result in injury.

Electricity Patterns

According to, changes in electricity patterns are one way to determine electricity theft by electrical companies. If patterns begin to show anomalies from what is expected, companies will analyse the patterns to determine if electricity theft is occurring. Patterns are based on geographic location, building size and occupancy. Using electricity patterns is an effective way to determine theft in single family homes and residential buildings, but is not always viable with commercial locations, as electricity usage can vary widely depending on the industry.

Cut Wires

Another sign of electricity theft is that the wires around the meter box have been cut or tampered with. If electricity theft is suspected, electrical companies will send out a crewman to inspect the location. All meters have both plastic and metal tags, connected by wires, that enclose the meter. Gray tags mean that the meter is operating properly through an electrical company, while red tags means a meter has been disconnected. If the wires are cut around the tags, it may be a sign that electricity theft is taking place.

Meter Cover Tampering

Anytime a meter has any holes or metal on the plastic cover, it may be a sign of electricity theft. Individuals who are stealing electricity may also need to pry open the meter box in order to gain access to electricity. Those who are investigating electricity theft may also want to check to see if the meter cover is loose, which is also a sign of tampering.

Foreign Objects

Many individuals who steal electricity also may insert foreign objects into the meter. Certain objects can force a meter's gears to slow down, which will cause the meter to not count the electricity properly. For example, strong magnets are often used that would stop the meter from turning.