Heating oil theft and how you can avoid it
There’s been a lot in the news recently about fuel theft. Amidst fluctuating oil prices, fuel theft becomes more of a focus for thieves as it becomes more valuable to them.
Your domestic fuel tank holds valuable heating oil and can be a target for thieves. Especially as they are often located in remote locations.
That’s why we’ve put together some useful tips to help you protect your home against heating oil theft. And what you can do if it happens.
Some reports suggest that the first three months of the year are when fuel theft is higher. However, thefts occur year-round, so it pays to be always vigilant.
Whilst the chance of fuel theft is relatively low, it can be very costly and cause a lot of inconvenience and upset.
10 top tips to avoid heating oil theft
Place your heating oil tank in a secure location
When considering where to place your heating oil tank, not only should you consider convenience, and safety, you should also consider security.
And of you will need ensure that wherever you put your tank, it complies with OFTEC regulations.
Locate your tank as far away from the road as you can. This will make it harder for opportunistic thieves to notice your tank while driving by make getaways more difficult.
Secondly, consider concealing your tank with a fence or trellis, or even a wall, plants or trellis. Just be sure to leave room for servicing, maintenance, and oil deliveries. You will also need to ensure compliance with OFTEC’s fire-safety recommendations.
If possible, consider installing a roof over your tank to prevent it being spotted on any satellite images which thieves may be using to target homes.
Placing a gravel path up to and around your tank is another tip, and it can be quite cost effective and easy too. This will create a noise which could put intruders off and alert you to them.
Finally, if you can, place your tank somewhere that is visible from inside your home. The potential of being seen is a big deterrent for thieves.
Fit an oil tank cage
If your tank is outdoors, there are still plenty of precautions you can take to avoid fuel theft. One of these is to install an oil tank cage.
This is a very good method of security as it’s an extra barrier for thieves.
You will need to ensure the cage fully encloses your tank though and leave enough room for maintenance and heating oil deliveries. It also needs to and be fixed to the ground – either bolted or concreted.
An oil tank cage doesn’t work for everyone though as you’ll need a bigger amount of space. They’re also not the most aesthetically pleasing.
Fit CCTV cameras
CCTV cameras can be a good theft deterrent and help provide evidence should your heating oil get stolen.
It’s important to consider the picture quality of any CCTV equipment you’re planning to install. Also, if tank isn’t very well lit, an infrared camera can help as thieves usually operate after dark. The memory of any CCTV equipment is worth considering too as you many realise a theft has taken place straight away.
Get security lighting
Dusk-till-dawn lights can be fitted to ensure lighting around your tank 24/7. Alternatively, motion sensor security lighting could help deter trespassers and alert you to their presence.
It’s very important that you do not install security lighting if your tanks are not within sight of your home, i.e., if it’s out of your sight. As this could help thieves more than prevent them.
Plant prickly bushes
Defensive plants such as blackthorn, hawthorn and brambles could be a deterrent for thieves as they’ll want to avoid them during a theft not only to protect themselves but also, they won’t want the risk of leaving any fibres behind which could help detect them.
Please do leave enough room for maintenance and fuel deliveries if you are planning to do this though.
Get a wireless tank alarm installed
Some fuel gauges can be linked to an alarm inside your home.
If your heating oil level drops suddenly, the alarm will make you aware of thefts and leaks.
Alternatively, you could display a sticker on your tank to warn intruders that your tank is alarmed.
It’s always worth checking your fuel levels on a regular basis so that you know how much you have in your tank.
Put a spinning cap on your tank
When a spinning cap is locked, it spins freely, making it all but impossible to get off. Its design means forced entry with crowbars or other similar tools are virtually impossible.
With a spinning cap, you won’t need to rely on a padlock to secure your tank.
Fit a padlock
It’s worth spending a little bit extra on a top-grade padlock as thieves often carry tools and bolt cutters.
Look for a padlock with a high-grade classification for maximum security. Grade 1 is the lowest security. Also, one with a close shackle is best as they are more difficult to cut. Alternatively, external ‘arm’ locks are designed to secure the points where your fuel is extracted on bunded and single skin plastic tanks. When you’re fitting locks, it is important never to lock your tank vent.
Install a smart fuel monitor onto your tank
A smart fuel monitor can help you see if you’ve had a sudden drop in your heating oil levels. Choose one that lets you monitor remotely so wherever you are, home or away, you can check you fuel lets. If it comes with an alert text alert system even better.
You can find out more about our smart fuel monitors by calling your local team on 0345 300 8844
Invest in insurance for your Tank
Finally, invest in insurance for your oil tank and it’s contents. It’s not just the cost of the fuel that is stolen that puts you out of pocket with a theft, your tank or pipes may have been damaged while taking the oil too. Even your securing measures could have been damanged. Plus if any fuel has been split during the theft you may have to pay out thousands for an environmental clean up.
What can you do if your fuel is stolen?
Call the 101 police number and report the crime. Save and share any information you have with the police such as your CCTV recordings or anything you have noticed and written down. Once you have a crime number, share it with your insurance provider.
If you have been the victim of a theft, then implement extra security measures to make sure that it doesn’t happen again the future.
If you need any help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact our specialist Tank Team on 0345 600 3423