The bosses of a Boston Supermarket have been accused of tampering with electrics to use £30,000 of electricity for free, and could have their licence revoked.
Lincolnshire Police investigators are calling on Boston Borough Council to take away the premises licence from Boston European Supermarket Ltd on George Street, after a “complex and sophisticated bypass” was found, which was declared a “danger to life”.
Reports before councillors on Monday say Harem Ali is the store manager, while Salar Ali Karim, director, is the designated premises supervisor.
Documents say Boston Supermarket had been closely monitored by BES Utilities since April last year when electricity usage was reported to be “greatly reduced”.
“At the time, the customer advised that lights were being kept off at night however this didn’t explain the periods of zero usage being recorded, as being a supermarket, fridges and freezers would need to be on overnight,” says the report.
Excuses over a period of months also included work by electricians and ‘fridges only on for half a day’ – the latter of which saw health concerns reported to the borough council’s Environmental Health team.
A series of visits, reviews and monitoring took place which found evidence that: “rather than the abstraction being on or off there were different phases of the equipment being bypassed to show some energy use.”
Seals on electrical equipment were also broken and suspicions arose that someone at the business had “bridged the metal arms coming out of the current transformer which would give free electricity and zero readings”.
A warrant was executed during which it was found two of the three “phases” had been bypassed.
An illegal connection was also found with a switch “hidden from view, behind wooden boarding, with an access panel which was concealed by a health and safety poster”. Staff were suspected of trying to conceal the panel with boxes of alcohol.
“The engineer described the bypass as complex and one of the most sophisticated he had ever seen,” says the report.
“Despite the large amount of temperature controlled stock in the premises… the engineer felt the bypass was so unsafe it required immediate disconnection as it was a danger to life.”
Attempts to blame fridge engineers were not upheld by BES Utilities.
Following the investigation, a £15,000 payment was made to BES Utilities in March and a weekly payment plan set up – however, at the time of the review submission by Lincolnshire Police said this had not been adhered to.
Officers recorded a crime of abstraction – an offence under the theft act – but due to the payment BES Utilities did not wish to pursue a criminal complaint at the time.
Boston Supermarket opened in October 2016 in the site of the former Wickes store.
SUBSCRIBE TO LOCAL DEMOCRACY WEEKLY, our exclusive email newsletter with highlights from coverage every week, as well as insights and analysis from our local democracy reporters.