Almost a fifth of all people prosecuted for electricity theft in England and Wales live in Merseyside, figures show.
Of the 1,582 cases that went to court in 2014-15, Merseyside accounted for 267 while Greater Manchester had 178. There were 144 prosecutions in London.
One electrician, who admitted rigging meters, told the BBC poverty was the main reason people sought his services.
Police said the regional variation in prosecutions reflected enforcement effort rather than actual thefts.
The figures, released to BBC Essex by the Crown Prosecution Service under freedom of information laws, also showed Merseyside had seen the largest three-year increase in prosecution numbers.
In 2012-13 there were 112 cases in Merseyside, followed by 202 the following year and up to 267 in 2014-15.
Liverpool Citizens Advice Bureau did not respond the BBC’s questions about whether it had seen a rise in cases of people concerned about utility bills.
Mainly it’s just people with no moneyElectrician
But a spokeswoman for Merseyside Police said the high levels of cases reflected its close working with electricity companies and “pro-active policing”.
She said the force had done a “lot of work” targeting cannabis farms, which had been found to be stealing electricity as well as growing the class B drug.
During a raid five weeks ago in north Liverpool, officers found 200 cannabis plants and the electricity illegally bypassed.
Insp Sarah Jones said the mix of electricity tampering and extensive watering systems were a dangerous combination and accounted for a growing number of fires in the area.
“The people who set up these farms often tamper with electricity meters to steal electricity,” she said. “And there will generally be a number of hot lamps which can overload electricity sockets, which can be running alongside extensive watering systems.”
The north west region had 619 court cases in total – more than the North East, Yorkshire and …read more
Source:: BBC world news feed