Wednesday, 9 February 2011

heating and diesel oil theft

click to read this article on the Cambridgeshire Constabulary websiteTheft of heating and diesel oil has been a problem for many years and the police have noticed an increase in this type of crime whenever the price of crude oil rises. A rise in the price of fuel at the petrol pump inevitably leads to a rise in the costs of heating oil. This makes oil a more attractive proposition for thieves who are targeting fuel tanks at farms, transport depots and domestic properties. The thieves may be using the oil for their own central heating or selling it on at a handsome profit.

Tanks can contain many thousands of pounds worth of oil and it therefore makes good sense to take a few precautions to protect them. The purpose of this information is to give you a few ideas about what can be done to make life more difficult for thieves.

click to go to OFTEC's homepageOFTEC or the ‘Oil Firing Technical Association for the petroleum industry’ offers advice and guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises. There are certain rules and regulations that may apply to you and OFTEC will help clarify these for you.

They can be reached at or by calling 0845 6585 080. They also produce an 'easy guide to domestic oil storage'.


The position of the tank can have a significant effect on how hard a target it is in the eyes of the thief. If the tank is close to the house, with one or more windows capable of giving a view of it, then the thief may consider the chances of being seen too high. If the tank is close to a road, path, drive or alleyway then it will be a far easier target. Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it does give the thief the advantage.

While it may not be desirable, or legal, to have the tank close to the house some sort of compromise location would be sensible. Of course this will not only be a major consideration when a new tank is to be installed but may be necessary if the tank has been targeted before. They do need to be within a reasonable distance of the road otherwise the oil supply company may not be able to refill it for you.


Control switches that control the flow of oil should be turned off and the electricity supply isolated when the tank is not in use.


click to see an example of a close-shackle padlockA thief will usually come equipped with a limited range of tools to attack your tank so it’s worth spending a little more on good quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are the best as they offer most resistance to the most popular of burglar tools; the bolt cropper! Due to their design, close shackle padlocks have very little of the metal hoop (shackle) exposed and bolt croppers cannot get a good grip. Remember that buying a padlock is like buying a car. The more you pay the better the quality and the longer it will last.


click to see examples of oil level gaugesRemote electronic oil level gauges are now available which will set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full. These gauges can be located in the kitchen or perhaps a utility room to warn of any potential problem. There are two or three different versions on the market at the moment and cost between £70 and £100. Get into the habit of regularly checking oil levels so that you will know if you have lost any.


Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a much harder target to the thief. It’s not always necessary to floodlight the area with high power beams, as a more subtle level of lighting may be all that is needed. Low energy ‘dusk till dawn’ lights positioned close to the tank should, in most cases, provide sufficient light to illuminate any suspicious activity. This type of light can be both effective and inexpensive. High powered lights can be used but care should be taken not to cause any nuisance to neighbours or road users.


Defensive planting is nature’s way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves will not wish to force their way through or over a prickly hedge. The smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help the police identify the offender. These shrubs can, if planted around your tank, provide an effective and decorative thief proof barrier. If you would like more information about defensive plants to protect your property contact your local community safety team on 0345 456 456 4.


click to learn more about Securit Tank GuardFollowing on from the defensive plant tactic, fences and walls can also make life difficult for the thief. A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank, but it must be remembered that the oil tanker driver will need access to fill the tank! A metal or grill cage with a lockable access point across the top of this wall or fence can further improve security. The wall or fence should be as close to the tank and as high as possible. Of course a trellis could also be decorated with defensive planting. A product called 'Tank Guard' surrounds the existing storage tank with a metal enclosure. This sheet metal enclosure has lockable access doors to allow filling and maintenance and has internal anchorage points to fix it to the concrete base. A tank guard costs less than one tank full of oil and will last many years.


The use of CCTV as crime prevention and a crime detection tool has grown massively in recent years. It could play a part in the protection of oil tanks, but before you spend lots of money on equipment make an assessment of your needs.

The object of this information has been to illustrate ways in which we can make it more difficult for a thief to steal heating oil. Nothing mentioned here will make it impossible for them to achieve their goal, but if some of the suggestions made are followed it just may make a difference.


click to go to Cambridgeshire Constabulary homepageIt is important to report any loss of fuel to the police or any attempt to steal.
Telephone:- 0345 456 456 4.

If it is an emergency dial 999. If you require any further information regarding any of the above, please contact your local community safety team on telephone number 0345 456 456 4.


To give information anonymously about any crime in your area telephone:- 0800 555 111.

click to go to Crimestoppers homepage

Visit the Cambridgeshire Constabulary Website:

Rebecca Parkin
Naighbourhood Officer
Linton Beat
Cambridgeshire Constabulary


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