back to article Rogue engineer supplied dodgy power to 1,500 homes

A former electricity engineer is believed to have illegally supplied power to more than 1,500 addresses in a scam lasting years. Derek Brown, 45, from Tottenham, London, was yesterday handed an eight-month suspended sentence and 150 hours community service for criminal damage offences at Wood Green Crown Court. Police also …

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Anonymous Coward

Wow

I had no idea criems like this even happened, fiddling with the intake point maybe but this is an amazingly large scale.

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WTF?

The landlords claimed that they weren't aware

ummmmm

and they normally pay through paypal do they?

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Flame

£186 per hour

Not bad if you can get it.

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He resigned, didn't he?

The implication that the circuits would need to be reinstalled in order to be safe seems a little odd. He was presumably fully trained and qualified before he resigned, so one might expect him to do at least as good a job when he's working for himself, as the bloke that's now doing his old job that's going to rewire it.

Presumably, the only difference is that EDF will now know about the meters, rather than him being their only EDF contact. I doubt that he'd manage to accumulate 1500 customers without a leak if he'd told people what was really going on, so presumably he's been telling the customer that he's signing them up with EDF, reading the meter regularly, and then knocking up bills for them.

Suspicions were probably aroused when the customer service was better than expected.

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Coffee/keyboard

you

owe me a new keyboard for that last comment

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Clarification needed

Reg reporting seems a bit thin on this one.

Other sources explain these were multi-occupancy houses where the landlord managed the revenue and he did the electrical work to branch a supply to the newly-created flats.

That's why he only got a suspended sentence and one landlord got 9 months. Others are still under investigation it seems.

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Coat

errm..

instead of "when the customer service was better than expected" you mean _far_ better than expected, don't you?

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Re: He resigned, didn't he?

Now read which borough the CID spokesman was from, and think long and hard about the likelihood that bunch of Charlies have *any* idea what they're talking about, or even the moral fibre to do anything but blindly repeat whatever claptrap their press office printed out and shoved in front of them.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Clarification needed

Please re-read the article. Particularly this quote from police:

"In many cases we believe that Brown was carrying out work for houses being converted into flats and splitting the connection from the mains in order to allow each property to have a separate supply."

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Still thin

That bit was obvious. The original poster seemed to be under the impression (as I was from reading the article) that he was then going on to put in meters and charge people for supplying electricity to them. Then it seemed puzzling that he just got community service.

The article doesn't explain that the stealing electricity bit was committed by the landlords, at least one of whom got a custodial sentence.

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Boffin

Silly Boy!

Didn't he have a stripy tent? Makes it look far more official when digging bank tunnels etc.

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There is another interesting angle here

The fact that it was not noticed from grid readings and substation telemetry speaks volumes about the quality of UK grid instrumentation. It also speaks volumes about the feasibility of any of the smart grid schemes being floated around.

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Anonymous Coward

As so often

all that stuff hinges on the customer being honest. Or at least being stupid enough to start out honest, so that the initial installation is done "properly" and later tampering can be detected.

I don't know what the loss rates are but if you're careful it shouldn't be too hard to vanish in the noise, after you dig up the line yourself and have a wholly-undocumented tap. RIght until they just happen to rip up the pavement and notice your tap. Though over in the Netherlands police are increasingly often "working together" with the 'leccy suppliers to ferret out illegal taps that feed grow lamps. Those can't exactly hide in an N homes, tea after television pattern.

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Stop

in the noise

Smart metering would definitely improve this situation - right now the grid operator never gets a snapshot of all of the meter readings taken at the same time to correlate with upstream meters.

This crime probably worked because the energy theft was distributed around fairly large area and the discrepancies were well below the value needed to set alarm bells ringing: You bet that there is significant administrative error in the energy supply business.

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Flame

Actually no it will not

It will not for a different reason - it all goes at retail level at present. There is no grid and not even wholesaler involvement and the way the UK regulation is laid out there cannot be wholesaler involvement. That is one amidst many reasons for UK not going for powerline comms.

So unless the regulatory regime changes there is no way to correlate what is at substation and what is at customer premises and once you go at grid level the amount consumed by one domestic consumer is lost in the noise.

Now why is UK PLC going ahead with Smart Metering at all without doing the basics and fixing regulation on this first.... Well... No comment...

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Smart grid

Here in British Columbia Canada the main reason we are moving to a smart grid system is that an average of 57 megawatts are stolen by marijuana growers. That's about 1% of all electricity sold in-province by BC Hydro. It will cost $930 million to install the system but it will pay for itself in eight years as we will be able to detect power diversion.

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under the Proceeds of Crime Act

What proceeds?

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Proceeds of crime act

As I understand it, and I may be wrong, but now the cash has been seized he has to prove he earned it honestly or the plod get to keep it.

Kafkaesque innit, good job he didn't forget a password as well....

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i wonder

how many weed farms will sue for crop damage/loss of earnings.

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Welcome

I for one

Welcome this mans sense of independence and David-v-Goliath electron smuggling. The only losers are a the shareholders in the big American or French owned energy company and I applaud that wholeheartedly.

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actually

Instead of the shareholders, every honest customer looses. As a shareholder I would vote to raise the rates on my customers if I had to run the generators a bit longer (or purchase more on the market) to meet demand. Why would I take the hit?

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Coin operated meters

Maybe the landlords concerned had coin operated meters fitted. That might explain the large sum of cash found.

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inconveniencing contractors?

oh no

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Paris Hilton

Nice sentence

Six minutes' community service for each home he connected up fraudulently? Sounds like he spent more time committing the crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Still Game

Reminds me of the episode of still game where Winston was setting people up with free electricity. Cauld I think it was called. You buggers, that means I'll have to go home and watch it now.

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Weed farms are spotted from the air....

...its not the power input they notice, but the extra output -- all those grow lamps generate heat which makes the house stand out like a beacon on an IR viewer.

EDF is, of course, "Electricity de France" -- funny old world when you give up the revenue stream (and profits) from your domestic utilities to help what is essentially a French state-owned company's profits (that is, your bills that once went to subsidize the English taxpayer are now subsidizing French ones).

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coin meter?

He probably put coin-op meters in

- He can collect the cash using his uniform

- Landlords think they are getting the proper service

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Anonymous Coward

diddy

"and three ledgers detailing every address he illegally supplied electricity to" = Diddy.

One place I worked a few years ago, there were a few empty properties upstairs. I found cables running from the top office (empty) which I believe were supplying a good number of shops and offices in the block. It's all been redeveloped now though.

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