Oil Theft in Rural Areas on the Rise

Towards the winter months, domestic and agricultural fuel theft steadily rises as thieves take on more and more devious methods of stealing fuel to sell on and make money.One of our customers described how he has purchased a rather large black Alsatian, following a number of incidents on nearby farms, “They’ll come into the farmyard asking for scrap metal or making out they are lost, but they’re really just checking out where the tank is, they return at night with containers and hoses to take your fuel! My neighbour had a pick axe put through the side of his tank and they filled a tank on the back of a pick-up”.Due to low level policing, thieves now see rural communities as ‘easy pickings’. They know they are less likely to be disturbed by passing traffic or be caught on CCTV.

What can we do to protect our rural buildings from fuel thieves?

  • Electronic Control switches – An electronic on/off switch that controls the flow of oil. It is important to make sure the electricity is supply isolated when the tank is not in use.
  • Padlocks – A good quality padlock. Investing in a good padlock that can resist a burglars bolt croppers is a cheap but effective deterrent (pay up to £100). HOWEVER if thieves are determined to take the fuel they will drill into the side of the tank, not only resulting in the loss of fuel but leaving the owner needing to replace the tank!
  • Security lights – Thieves prefer the cover of darkness to avoid later detection. Take care not to interfere with neighbours’ privacy when installing bright security lights as a friendly neighbour’s vigilance will also help in the security of your oil tank (typical cost of up to £50 each).
  • CCTV – Close Circuit Television will not only act as a deterrent but may help police in any following investigations, giving vital details such as time, descriptions and registration plates of vehicles. Prices vary wildly on CCTV equipment depending on your requirements but expect to pay £100 for one entry-level camera.
  • Out of sight, out of mind – Can your tank be seen by passing vehicles? There are ways that you can safely hide your tank by strategically planted trees or shrubbery (remember to leave clear access for your driver to deliver your oil).
  • Oil level gauges - Costing between £70 and £100, remote gauges are now available that will sound an alarm if the tank’s oil level suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full.
The key to avoiding fuel theft is making it difficult for the thief to target your property.Talk to neighbours about their preventive security measures and make it difficult for the thief to avoid not only your property but the whole community.