While David Houghton and Abby Simpson were on holiday, someone broke into their home - and all they took was their old gas meter. British Gas, they discovered, had hired a locksmith to gain entry to their flat in north London and changed their old meter to a pay-as-you-go version, because the company - mistakenly - believed the couple owed them money. It may sound suprising, but according to a 2007 report by Harry Snook, a barrister for the Centre for Policy Studies, there are 266 powers allowing officials to enter your home, and not all require a warrant. Those who can break in include firefighters, in an emergency, and police arresting a suspect. The Environment Agency can gain access without a warrant where there is danger of pollution or damage to public health. Electricity and gas companies can come in to inspect equipment or change a meter but have to give at least two days' notice (though they can enter in an emergency). Landlords are allowed to enter their property and seize goods in lieu of unpaid rent, and local authorities can enter your home for a number of reasons, including to turn off a continuous burglar alarm or pest extermination. Police need warrants to enter if they suspect you have been making biological weapons, fertilising human eggs or running a tattoo parlour at home. Bailiffs are not allowed to break in; however, once they have gained "peaceful entry" (this can be through an open window), they are allowed to come back at any time and force entry. Then there are the more unusual Acts. Under the Bees Act, officers can enter to search for foreign bees. Under the Hypnotism Act, the police can enter a property where they suspect offences related to stage hypnotism are taking place. Stage hypnotism, strangely, is not an offence in itself.