Skint families are risking their lives to get free electricity.
They are paying crooked handymen to hack their supply in the face of soaring bills.
Cowboys fit a loop which bypasses the meter.
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But the illegal measure is highly dangerous as the loops are not meant for bigger currents and could lead to a fire.
We visited one council house where the pay-as-you-go meter had been “rigged”.
The owner of the terraced house in Rochdale, Lancs, a 63-year-old granny, did it as she couldn’t pay a £134 debt.
She said: “There’s a few lads going round the estate charging £30-a-go to rig the electric.
"I’m on a meter but can’t afford to top it up and I already owe them money.
“Now I’m getting all my electricity free – which I know is illegal but I’ve mouths to feed.
“I’m not the only person round here doing it.
So it’s stealing electricity – well, it’s daylight robbery what this Government is charging us!”
People stole electricity on a record number of occasions across England and Wales last year.
Data shows police responded to 3,600 reports.
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