Thieves are being warned about the dangers of stealing gas meters.
Northumbria Police and Northern Gas Networks have teamed up to give the warning after incidents of gas meters being stolen from houses in North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland.
Officers believe in some cases, offenders are making off with them to replace their own in an attempt to defraud gas suppliers.
Police are keen to get the message across that these and other incidents could have tragic consequences for not only the person tampering with the gas, but unsuspecting people living nearby.
Peter Christie, health, safety and environment operations manager at Northern Gas Networks, said: “Stealing a gas meter is a very dangerous thing to do as it could cause a risk of explosion, endangering not only the perpetrators but also any members of public in the vicinity.
“If we suspect theft of gas or gas equipment, we will immediately report it to the police.
“Anyone that smells gas should call the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.”
People can contact police on 101, extension 69191.