Information about the prevention of theft of heating oil and diesel

  |  Published: Jan 25th 2015

Theft of heating oil and diesel has been a problem for many years as heating oil and red diesel is an attractive proposition for thieves who actively target fuel tanks at farms and rural domestic properties.

The Oil Firing Technical Association for the petroleum industry (OFTEC) offers advice and guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises. There is a security advice leaflet available which can be found on the oilsave website.

Position of the tank

Consider the position of the tank as it can have a significant effect on its vulnerability.

  • If it is close to the house and overlooked, then the thief may consider the risk of being seen to be too high. 
  • If it is close to the road or other access points, then it will be an easier target. 
  • Hiding it behind the garage or other structure is commonplace but can be an advantage to the thief. 
  • If tanks are to be stored in an outbuilding then there are strict regulations which must be followed and advice should be sought from the fire service and OFTEC.

Security measures

  • Consider using control switches to control the flow of oil and isolate the electricity supply when the tank is not in use. 
  • Consider using oil level gauges alarms: these remote control alarms activate if the tank level suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full. Police-approved tank alarms are available - for more details please visit the Secured By Design website (opens new window).
  • Consider using proximity GSM alarms: these are battery operated motion sensor alarms, which can alert designated mobile phones when motion activity has been detected around the tank.
  • Consider CCTV: This can be set up to watch over an isolated tank and may be a deterrent. 
  • Defensive planting is nature's way of helping reduce crime: thieves will not want to fight their way through or over a thorny hedge because ripped clothing or blood may help the police identify an offender. 
  • Consider restricting access to the tank with walls, fences and trellising. This should be constructed in close proximity to the tank. 
  • Consider protecting the tank with metal cages, grills and guards. These are available with lockable access points. Ensure someone is available when the tank needs to be filled.
  • Closed shackle padlocks offer the most resistance to the bolt cropper.
  • Security Lighting: if your tank is visible from your home, this can deter thieves. Low level ;dusk till dawn’ or PIR motion detection lighting can be an effective crime deterrent. 

Remember to check the oil level in your tank regularly. Look for any spilt fuel, marks on the locks or anything else suspicious.

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