Police have reported an increase in the number of cases of thieves stealing heating oil.
In Worcestershire, police arrested one man responsible for stealing oil from many rural homes in order to sell it again.
“It is very sad that when most people are pulling together to help each other during this cold weather, a small minority are committing these offences.” Chief inspector Jerry Reakes-Williams.
With around 1.3 million households using heating oil and the average cost of a tank of oil around £900 for a 1000 litres. Of particular risk to oil thefts are isolated properties in rural areas or farms. There are steps that can be taken to prevent these thefts.
NFU (National Farmers Union) Mutual insurance company has received more than one hundred claims with a value of £50,000 in the last six-months.
People are becoming more aware thanks to BBC news, radio programmes and newspaper articles spreading the word but there are also a number of measures you can take to make it less likely you will become a victim of this crime.
Make sure that your oil tank is not visible from the road, and if it is, then fences, trellis, trees or hedging can be used to make the oil tank less visible to passing traffic.
If you have a drive with gates, then keep them closed when away from the property.
Use a security light placed near the oil tank that will come on if there is any movement near the tank.
Small infra-red cameras are fairly cheap these days. A covert camera to record the number plates of any vehicles entering your drivewa could help. It may not stop theives but may help to trace the them later. Placing a highly visible camera on your house may act as a deterent to opportunist theives.
Fit a good strong lock; although be aware that plastic tanks can be drilled which may lead to other problems. Not only do you have to buy a new oil tank but you may have an environmental problem cleaning up the spilt oil.
Use a product like the Watchman Sonic Alarmed, this monitors the oil level and sends a radio signal to a receiver inside the house. It can also detect when the oil level drops dramatically such as would happen if there were a leak or theft and alerts the receiver unit.
It is still possible that even after all these security changes, a determined theif could still come along and steal your oil but if you make it difficult for them they will probably go elsewhere.
Had your heating oil stolen? Make an anonymous oil theft report today and help to raise awareness n your local area!