The Theft Act 1968 prohibits the 'Abstracting of electricity' under s.13. What about other utilities?

e.g. A neighbour secretly connects their hosepipe to a neighbours tap that is easily accessed (issues of trespass aside). In fact, s.13 also prohibits a person who "dishonestly causes to by wasted" so what if they just turned on their neighbours tap and let it run?

I'm struggling to come up with easy examples for gas but my question applies to all utilities.

If the answer is no, and that the 'diverting' or 'wasting' of water or gas would simply qualify under the Act's 'Basic definition of theft', why have a separate section specifically for the abstraction of electricity?


I can't tell you about the situation in the UK, but according to Wikipedia, in Germany laws had to be introduced specifically for electricity because "theft" of electricity did not meet the legal definition of "theft" and when the first person ever to "steal" electricity was caught, it turned out that they couldn't be punished according to existing law.

Electricity is not something that you can take away. It's not a material thing. Water is something that you can take away. No special laws were needed against stealing water, because that met the ordinary legal definition of theft. Same with gas. I suspect the same might be the case in the UK and many other countries.

Looking at the UK act: Electricity is not "property" by the legal definition. Water is, and gas is. Wind would probably not be.

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    Steam would be an interesting example. If you wrap a heat exchanger around a steam pipe, thus harvesting some of the heat, what law have you broken? Apparently this isn't theft, since the person at the other end still gets the same water vapor they otherwise would, it's just not as hot. Feb 23 '16 at 15:15

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