Theft of heating oil has been an issue in rural areasfor some time, but it can be a particular problem atthis time of year as home owners get their supplies for the winter months. Coupled with rises in the cost of fuel, oilhas become a much more attractive target for thieves.
Consider the position of the tank: can it be viewed easily from the house? If it is close to a road or pathway, it is more at risk. Think about using prickly, thorny plants to hide the tank from view;
traces of blood or ripped clothing may help to identify the offender.
Be aware of your oil levels and check them regularly. Remote oil-level gauge alarms are available and cost between £60 – £85; they will set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full.
Use good quality padlocks, and lockable fuel caps, a thief will not want to spend a long time trying to attack your tank. Look for closed shackle padlocks, as they will be more difficult to break. Look for quality marks and attack-tested products (see www.soldsecure.com).
If you have a plastic tank, consider screening it with a barrier. According to OFTEC advice, any screening hedge or trellis must be spaced 600mm from the tank or 760mm if it is part of a boundary and no fire barrier is erected (see http://www.oftec.co.uk/consumer/faqs-on-oil-storage-tanks). Other options include a metal cage or grill with lockable access point across the top. A specialist
product called ‘Tank guard’ surrounds the tank with a metal enclosure, and the sheet metal enclosure has lockable access doors to allow filling and maintenance, plus internal anchorage points fixing it to the concrete base. A tank guard costs less than one tank full of oil and will last many years.
CCTV may help to deter thieves if there is very little natural surveillance, but before you spend money on equipment you should make an assessment of your needs. If you have outside security lighting, ensure that the system works and that the light sensors have been adjusted correctly to detect movement. Deter thieves from entering your property by using optimal perimeter security, such as good fencing and strong lockable gates. Maintain boundaries and perimeter fencing/hedges.
Be vigilant by noting unusual or out of place vehicle registration numbers, and report suspicious activity to the Police. OFTEC also offer advice and guidance to those using and storing oil (contact www.oftec.org).