Whilst metal theft is out of control across the country, in parts of rural England domestic and commercial properties are seeing a rapid increase in heating oil theft and in some cases the tanks themselves. As the cold weather returns oil tanks are being filled up and thieves are taking advantage of this, after all the average tanks hold over £600 worth of fuel (prices have increased by 50% in the last year).
The methods that thieves employ to steal heating oil can be fairly crude, often they will simply drill or punch a hole in the tank and then collect in the oil in a jerry can. The amount stolen can vary dramatically from small amounts to entire tanks being drained. The first signs of a theft will often when the heating stops working. It is natural to assume that the boiler has broken but upon examination it turns out that there is no oil left.
The following advice may lessen your chances of falling victim to this crime:
1. LOCK YOUR GATES:
The simple act of keeping your garden or drive gates closed and securely locked can prevent a theft. Ensure that all gates and fences are in good repair.
2. DISGUISE YOUR TANK:
Consider fencing, trellis or defensive planting. The planting of hostile, thorny shrubs around your tank and boundaries can provide extra protection. Good examples of defensive plants are Pyracantha, Berberis, Climbing Rose, Hawthorn and even Gooseberry.
3. CREATE OBSTACLES:
Plant pots and general garden paraphernalia can be placed in the path of any potential intruders. They will make noise and waste time moving the items or navigating around them. Remove and secure any tools or ladders which could be used as an aide to commit crime. Consider a gravel driveway – criminals don’t like these as they make too much noise!
4. LIMIT THE QUANTITY OF FUEL IN YOUR TANK:
Full tanks are a more popular target, so consider limiting the amount of oil that you have in your tank at any one time.
5. LOCK YOUR TANK:
Use a good quality, alarmed padlock or install lockable caps with crop proof fittings. Where possible fit hardened flexible casings to any vulnerable fuel hoses so that they are harder to cut.
6. FIT A ‘LEVEL GAUGE’ WITH AN AUDIBLE ALARM:
The alarm should sound if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops, or falls below a certain point.
7. CONSIDER INSTALLING SECURITY LIGHTING AND CCTV:
Lights can not only warn you of an intruder but also alert neighbours and passing police patrols. CCTV can be a good deterrent and also assist in identification after a theft.
8. INSTALL A ‘TANK CAGE OR GUARD’:
This is particularly important if you have already suffered a fuel theft. These welded cages offer the best protection while still allowing tanker access. Although this solution may seem expensive, when weighted up against the lost of lost fuel and/or a new tank that may be damaged during fuel theft, it can prove more cost effective in the long term. Such cages can also be alarmed for additional security.
9. SITE YOUR TANK CLEVERLY: If you have cause to re-site your tank or are installing a fuel tank for the first time, ensure that it is placed in a secure location – visible from your home and surrounding properties but not from the road.
10. DON’T LEAVE SCRAP METAL IN VIEW:
By removing any scrap from the view of potential offenders, you can avoid drawing attention to your property or your fuel tank!
11. CHECK YOUR INSURANCE COVERS YOUR FUEL!