Local newspapers are once again reporting an increase in fuel thefts (e.g. Top 10 tips on how to stop thieves stealing diesel and heating oil | Malvern Gazette ) from domestic and commercial heating oil and diesel tanks. With current high energy costs, fuel tanks at rural premises may look like easy pickings for thieves.

West Mercia Police’s top 10 tips

  • Monitor the level of oil in your tank regularly, ideally this will be every two days.
  • Hide the tank from view from the road using hedging, fencing or walling but make sure it is visible from your house.
  • Consider security lighting to cover the tank, a PIR system can also alert you in your house to movement at the tank. Consider CCTV options.
  • Ask your neighbours to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the police. Look after each other
  • Padlock the valve but consider that thieves may smash the valve but this involves noise and a lock can deter a less determined thief.
  • Make sure your gates are locked when possible and certainly at night, to make it more difficult for a thief to escape with oil.
  • Lock your doors at all times if the tank is situated in an outbuilding.
  • Consider alarm devices which create an alert if the oil level suddenly drops or if the lock is attacked. These can send alerts to your phone. Some of these alarms use ultrasonic measuring to continually measure the level of oil in your tank. You will then be alerted if the device detects a fast drop in the fuel level within the tank.
  • Consider erecting a cage around your tank, this will then help prevent damage to your tank with thieves trying to drill into it.
  • Put gravel around your tank as this will create a noise when walked on.

Whilst these are useful tips on how to deter thieves and make your tank a less attractive target, the location of the tank must be agreed with an OFTEC accredited engineer to make sure it complies with oil storage and building regulations, to ensure the correct operation of the oil-fired system, and to avoid potentially invalidating any insurance cover.

Oil tanks, gauges or valves are often damaged when attempting theft of the tank contents and the resulting spills are potentially inconvenient, costly, and time-consuming to put right. Check now that your home and contents insurance cover thefts, and any damage or spill that may result.

If you have any concerns, need advice, or have had a spill or leak on your premises, please contact us on 0345 166 8491 for assistance.