A takeaway owner stole more than £15,000 worth of gas by tampering with the meter at his business premises in Leeds.
Ming Wong carried out the deception for over a decade before his offending was spotted by a British Gas officer.
Police had to be called to the Happy House takeaway in Meanwood as there was “trouble” when engineers went to cut off his supply.
Leeds Crown Court heard Wong, 39, took over the lease to the takeaway in 2004 and started an account with British Gas in February 2007.
A revenue protection officer went to the premises on Stainbeck Road in July 2017 to inspect the meter.
Joe Culley, prosecuting, said the officer noticed damage to the unit which held the meter in place.
The officer fitted ‘anti-tamper tape’ over the meter and returned to inspect it in August.
The prosecutor said the meter showed a 33 per cent increase in consumption since the previous visit.
There was also evidence that the meter had been moved backwards on a weekly basis.
Mr Culley said the total value of stolen gas was £15,690.
Wong was sent a bill for £16,634, which included the investigation fee. Police had to be called to the premises a month later as there was “physical resistance” when engineers went to disconnect the gas supply.
Wong, who was assisted in court by a Mandarin interpreter, pleaded guilty to theft. Richard Prew, mitigating, said Wong had so far repaid £2,000 to British Gas and was paying the money back in monthly instalments.
Wong has no previous convictions. He was given a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 240 hours of unpaid work. Recorder Felicity Davies also ordered Wong to pay £16,634 compensation to British Gas. She said: “Your offence is made more serious in that it was committed over a period of ten years.”