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Posted by Neil Brunskill
Police have reminded heating oil customers to be on their guard after a series of thefts of the fuel in one part of the UK.
There have been two thefts in the Whiteabbey area and two more attempted crimes, officers told the Newton Abbey Times.
A spokesperson from the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) explained that heating oil is a relatively expensive commodity and so is attractive to criminals looking to make money quickly.
"It therefore makes good economic sense for people to protect themselves and their neighbours against this type of crime," the source commented.
Police officers recommend that rural residents should be on the lookout for any activity that is out of the ordinary, paying particular attention to lorries, vans and cars towing trailers that could contain oil.
It was pointed out that most delivery services for the product would have brand names on their vehicles or containers to advertise the service, rather than carrying fuel in unmarked tanks.
Meanwhile, measures can be taken at home to guard against fuel theft. The PSNI spokesperson recommended using padlocks to secure tanks and fitting sensor lights to prevent thieves coming in the dark.
It was also suggested that people could keep an eye on the tanks of elderly neighbours, who may not be able to spot thieves but will be badly affected by the loss of fuel.
Anyone who does see anything was advised to make a note of vehicle registrations and contact police.
Now may be a busy time for criminals to strike, as heating oil customers are likely to be stocking up on supplies of the fuel while prices are lower in preparation for the winter.
Similar fuel theft prevention advice was recently offered by the Bude Neighbourhood Police Team in an article for the Cornish Guardian, where the commodity is also regularly targeted.
If you have been the victim of a heating oil theft in the last year, visit BoilerJuice's new oil theft watch service to make an anonymous report or to register for free oil theft alerts in your area.
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