HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The city of High Point is working to crack down on a growing problem that has dramatically increased over the past two years: tampering with meters.  

High Point noticed a 42% uptick in reports of meter meddling and decided to raise the fine in an effort to deal with the problem.  

Sometimes, utility customers take matters into their own hands, manipulating meters to make them appear lower.  

“We have 153 examples of meter tampering so far this year,” said Jeremy Coble, customer service director for the City of High Point. “That’s 153 situations that someone could’ve got seriously hurt or injured.” 

Coble gave several examples, including one meter rigged with screwdrivers. One customer took the meter out, took part of the inner-register device out, and placed the meter back hoping it would not be seen.  

Each tangle of wire or metal on metal is an electrocution risk. 

“Just the act of removing the meter and installing a foreign object can cause huge fireballs, explosions, or death,” said Coble.  

The act of manipulating a meter is a crime. The first incident is a misdemeanor. The second is a felony. But the city wants people to know it’s the same as shoplifting energy.  

“If theft or tampering increases, then those costs are going to get distributed to all High Point customers and our utility, so we want to make sure to keep our costs as low as possible,” Coble said. 

If the city inspects a meter and discovers tampering, it will now cost more. 

“Previously, our tampering charge was $100, which was set in 2005, and we haven’t had an increase since then,” Coble said. “We are now increasing that to $300.” 

That goes into effect July 1.  

If you have trouble paying your utilities, there is help available. In High Point, first call (336) 883-3111 and explain the situation and the city will assist you in finding options. Secondly, there are other community resources.  

NC211.org is a free service that can help you find local community agencies that provide assistance with a wide range of needs including: 

  • Utility bills 
  • Housing, food and other essentials 
  • Child and elder care 
  • Medical expenses and health counseling 

To get started, simply visit NC211.org or dial 211 from your phone. 

For more community resources, visit High Point’s utility assistance web page.