ORIS Forums’ DIY and Building Trade Loss Prevention Forum, which has previously discussed the issue with boiler manufacturers, the Gas Safe Register, and the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), is launching a campaign directly to the public.

DIY stores are often targeted by burglars and ram raiders for high value gas boilers that are then sold on the lucrative black market.

At a time of soaring gas prices, it also feared that the problem could get worse as householders look for ways to reduce their costs. 

Stolen boilers are often fitted by unqualified or rogue traders and the nature of their acquisition also means they are not registered with the Gas Safe registration body that guarantees only safe and qualified engineers carry out the installation.

Peter Page, chairman of the Forum, said: “The public need to understand the wider implications of buying a boiler from an unauthorised supplier and getting it fitted by a mate or unverified trader.

“We need to cut off the supply of illegal boilers at source by educating the public as to the dangers.  Unregistered boilers, incorrectly fitted by an unauthorised supplier can at worst be fatal and financially ruinous at best. 

Apart from the obvious dangers as to provenance and the unregulated fitting (all gas boilers should be fitted by a Gas Safe or equally accredited registered individual or body), there are legal and financial considerations for householders, including the fact that unregistered boilers, if proved to be the cause or contributor to a fire or explosion, invalidate household insurance claims.

Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) said: “It’s simply not worth taking the risk on an unregistered tradesperson, with a dubiously sourced boiler. The money you save on a bargain installation could cost you your home, your health, or your life. At best, a rogue installation will leave you with an invalidated warranty and issues around servicing and breakdowns in the future.

"The onus is on the homeowner to ensure appliances have been correctly purchased and their engineer holds all the relevant credentials. Registered installers will never be offended if you ask for their Gas Safe, OFTEC, or CIPHE membership number, so you can double check their ID and registrations.

"CIPHE is very concerned about the black market in stolen boilers and counterfeit boiler parts. The current supply chain issues are exacerbating the role of the shadow economy, which means consumers and installers alike need to be extra vigilant. However, the problem goes further than rogue installers, as online marketplaces are not legally responsible for stopping dangerous products from being sold. How many will unwittingly purchase stolen appliances or fake parts online in good faith? The key is educating everyone to only buy from authorised suppliers, and to only use professional installers.”

Peter, who is also the Head of Group Security at Travis Perkins, added: “If a stolen boiler or its fitting causes an explosion, leak or fire that destroys or damages your property, you won’t be able to claim on your insurance. Failure to register the boiler simply invalidates the policy – there will be no pay out and, what’s more, there could also be some awkward questions from the police and other emergency services.

“Of course, as a business we lose financially and we are at risk of reputational damage when boilers are stolen and then later fitted in a home. Likewise, the grey market in counterfeit or stolen heating components is a ticking timebomb for the industry.”

He said there were issues around rented accommodation, often with multiple occupancy, where tenants would not know the provenance of the boiler, so it was up to landlords to follow the same advice.