Heating Oil Thefts

Message from Kent Police Neighbourhood Watch

With the Cold snap approaching it would appear a good time to check on your heating oil.

Kent Police is reminding homeowners of advice to help deter the theft of heating oil.

Between 1 January, 2016 and 13 November, 2016 there were 94 crimes relating to the theft of heating oil across the county.

Areas of Ashford, Medway and Tunbridge Wells have seen the highest number of offences and rural officers are urging residents and business to remain vigilant.

PC Michael Laidlow of Kent Police’s Rural Task Force said: ‘The theft of heating oil from domestic tanks can cost as much as £2,000 to £3,000 to replace. It not only hits families in the pocket but can cause great distress as it may also mean they are left without any heat and hot water over the winter months.
‘Taking a few simple security steps to protect your tank can really reduce the chances of you being a victim. One of the most important decisions to be considered should be around adding protection to the tank, including fitting a sturdy lock to any caps and perhaps installing a protective cage around the tank and any pipes. Ideally, any casing should be locked with a shackle padlock, which can’t be easily broken with bolt croppers.’

Further advice:
The simple act of keeping your yard or drive gates closed and securely locked could prevent a theft. Ensure gates and fences are in good repair.

Consider installing CCTV and alarms, along with suitable security lighting.

The location of storage tanks can be a critical factor. Ideally they should be situated within sight of your home, office or business while at the same time being difficult to see by the general public.

Regularly check your fuel levels so that you can easily spot if the level drops. Remote electronic oil level gauges can be fitted which set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops.

Check your oil is covered by your household or business insurance.

Record the details of any unfamiliar vehicles and their occupants seen in the area.

Plant prickly plants such as rose bushes, holly and thorny bushes around your tank. These make a great defence mechanism as thieves generally avoid things that may catch on their skin or clothing and leave forensic evidence.

If you are going on holiday, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your oil tank and report any suspicious activity.