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Abstracting electricity

Date Updated: January 2012

Title: Theft

Offence: Abstracting electricity

Legislation: S13 Theft Act 1968

Mode of Trial: Either way

Statutory Limitations & Maximum Penalty: 5 years

Aggravating & Mitigating Factors

  • Offence pre-planned.
  • "Black box" installed.
  • Period over which offence was committed.
  • High value involved or substantial loss.
  • Danger to property and/or life.
  • Abstraction to facilitate another offence (eg cultivation of cannabis)

Relevant Sentencing Council Guideline

Sentencing Guidelines Council's guideline for sentencing in magistrates recommends a range of range of a Band A fine to high level community order for a first time offender on conviction of an offence involving evidence of planning and an indication  to continue with the offence, but says that a custodial sentence may be appropriate where the offence results in substantial commercial gain (Archbold 21-167)

Relevant Sentencing Guidelines

R v HODKINSON (1980) 2 Cr.App.R.(S.) 331
The appellant pleaded guilty to dishonestly abstracting electricity. He had fitted a device to the electricity meter at his home, which caused the meter to give a false reading.
In the circumstances of this case this Court has come to the conclusion that the necessary deterrent element would be sufficiently dealt with by a sentence of one month's immediate imprisonment, accompanied by a fine of £750.
 "if people have it in mind to acquire these little devices, which enable them to steal electricity, from friends of theirs in pubs, they ought to be discouraged from doing so by knowing that if they are caught they are likely to go to prison."

Relevant Sentencing Case Law

R v WRIGHT (1981) 3CAR(s) 242                   
£2K GP Good Character 4m

R v WESTERN (1987) 9CAR(s) 6 
1m supply GP Good Character 1m "calls for a deterrent"

Ancillary Orders:

  • Compensation

Consider Also:

  • POCA

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