Preventing heating oil theft

It has been said that living in a rural location off-grid can lead to an easier, less stressful and more healthy lifestyle, but countryside living and using domestic heating oil for your oil fired central heating and hot water does unfortunately come with the potential risk of fuel theft. Home heating oil isn’t the easiest of things to steal so the chance of having yours stolen is low, but theft does still occur. And with current high prices, heating oil has never been a more attractive target for thieves and makes heating oil theft extremely costly and distressing for those who fall foul of it. So we all need to do what we can to make sure the fuel in our heating oil tanks is safe.

Also important is to make sure your heating oil is covered under your household insurance should you need to make a claim as many policies don’t cover damage to your central heating oil tank and theft of your oil. So check with your provider, or when taking out cover, make sure that your policy also covers the cost of any repairs or spillages that may be necessary as a result of damage done by thieves so you don’t end up out of pocket.

Some simple precautions can considerably reduce your risk of becoming a victim of crime, which is why we’ve put together some useful tips to help you protect your home from heating oil theft. It is, of course, important to remember that if you’re planning on making changes, your tank must comply with OFTEC regulations.

The right location:

The location of your tank can have a significant impact on whether it’s likely to be targeted by thieves. Make sure your heating oil tank is hidden where possible. If you can, locate your tank in a position away from the road side, driveway or alleyways so thieves will find it more difficult to spot. Keep access gates locked and walls and fences in good repair, but do remember your heating oil driver will need to be able to fill your tank, and that access will also be required for servicing and maintenance. For a heating oil tank installation guide, visit the OFTEC website.

Keep it hidden:

Conceal your heating oil tank with walls or fences, remembering to refer to OFTEC regulations, and with plants and/or vegetation - but be careful to ensure that your supplier can still access your tank, and ensure you maintain plants so your driver can deliver safely and without the risk of tearing clothes or cutting themself on prickly plants.

Consider adding a cover over your tank so it can’t be spotted on satellite – some thieves use Google Maps to scope out their targets.

Install an alarm:

Install a heating oil monitor such as our Oil Fox device. Packed with great benefits, it allows you to monitor live your oil level 24/7 with a heating oil tank gauge and a handy app on your phone and will alert you to a dip in your oil level if your oil's being stolen or your tank has sprung a leak.

Fit a lock:

Lock your tank with a high quality padlock. Whilst thieves can still drill into a plastic tank to steal the fuel, a lock is a visual security measure which, especially when combined with other security measures, can be sufficient to deter a thief.

CCTV and/or security lighting:

Installing CCTV and/or security lighting that triggers with motion to automatically light up the area where your tank is located is a good way to ward off an intruder - even a dummy camera can be sufficient to deter thieves.

Add a layer of gravel:

Consider putting a gravel path up and around your tank to make the surrounding area noisy – a simple, quick and low-cost deterrent to put thieves off by making the surrounding area noisy and alert you to their presence.

In comparison to heating oil, LPG is virtually impossible to steal so can offer a more secure option in terms of risk of theft.  You may also be able to store your fuel in an underground LPG tank, a good way to store your domestic LPG without losing garden space or spoiling your view.  So if you’re looking for an alternative source of fuel to heat your home, switching to LPG, the closest thing you’ll get to natural gas if you’re not on the national grid, is simple and hassle-free. It provides a clean, reliable and versatile source of heat for central heating, hot water, cooking and gas fires as is almost impossible to steal. If you would like to weigh up the pros and cons of oil versus LPG, (which stands for liquid propane gas), we can help and offer advice. Just give us a call on 01423 772 789 or click here for more information on switching to LPG.