Meter tampering is both illegal and incredibly dangerous because of the risk of injury or electrocution. A meter that is tampered with does not function as it should, resulting in a loss of the information needed from it by landlords. A functioning meter is integral to the recovery of consumption costs and the avoidance of the ramifications of electricity theft. If meter tampering is left undetected, landlords will not be able to recover electricity costs for that specific meter which will lead to continued under-recoveries for months (and sometimes years).

There are two ways to detect signs of prepaid meter tampering:

The first is that the meter will attempt to detect whether somebody has attempted to interfere with the operations of the meter. If it does so it will go into Tamper Mode and stop supplying electricity. If this is the case please contact the Citiq Prepaid Call Centre for assistance. For Landis+Gyr meters Tamper mode is shown with a sad face with a open circuit sign on the display.

The next way to detect visible and physical tampering. Typical signs are if the seal has been removed from the meter, the bottom cover is loose or if any additional wiring connections to and from the meter can be seen.

Another way is to monitor purchasing reports – if there is significant under-recovery compared to what is being supplied then chances are that there a meter has been tampered with. A concerned landlord can then carry out an internal audit of a particular unit by comparing its electricity consumption to that of previous months. To help building owners mitigate tampering, landlords can log in to the Citiq Prepaid Meter Management System and draw a Low Consumption report that will indicate which meters have made low purchases over a defined period.

Should the landlord suspect tampering (either through tamper mode, inspection or reports) the next step is to  have a qualified electrician conduct an inspection on the relevant meter in question, record the tamper evidence and then undo the tampering.

If a landlord discovers that a prepaid meter has in fact been tampered with, at their discretion, they can follow these steps:

  1. Confront the tenant with proof
  2. If the period of tampering is known attempt to recover the stolen funds
  3. Open a case of theft with the SAPS
  4. Evict the tenant should the issue persist

If you are a tenant and suspect another tenant of tampering, you should report them to the landlord. By reporting the matter, the owner or managing agent can rectify the scenario and continue ensuring that everybody pays their fair share of the electricity they use.