Fuel price rises prompt Lincolnshire Police to warn householders about heating oil theft

Lincolnshire Police are warning domestic heating oil users in the county to be on their guard against potential thefts due to rocketing prices caused by the war in Ukraine.

Lincolnshire Police are warning householders to protect their heating oil tanks from would-be thieves.
Lincolnshire Police are warning householders to protect their heating oil tanks from would-be thieves.

In March 2021 domestic oil prices were, on average, 47p per litre. Today, consumers can expect to pay somewhere upwards of £1.02 per litre depending on the amount being ordered and the chosen supplier.

Lincolnshire is particularly affected by this as so many areas are not on the gas grid and rely on heating oil. Over half the homes in East Lindsey use heating oil.

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Lincolnshire Police officers are warning that opportunistic thieves might target tanks that they spot while out and about, whereas it is known that more organised criminals use tools such as Google Maps to identify homes with oil tanks in their gardens.

Another tactic used by would-be thieves is following oil delivery vehicles in order to identify homes with full tanks.

With this in mind, the force’s crime prevention unit is advising it is a good idea to protect your tank from oil theft:.

Their tips include:

*⚠ Install an oil gauge and tank alarm – Modern tank alarms can be synced to mobile phones and tablets which will alert you of a dip in your oil levels. This will not stop a thief but good signage to make it clear there is an alarm on the tank will act as a deterrent.

* CCTV – This is another overt method of deterring thieves. Cameras should be visible and have adequate technology to record good quality images

* Security lighting – Having a sensor light that will illuminate the area your tank is located will make a thief think twice. The tank must be visible from a window/street or anywhere that people can see it, otherwise you will only be aiding the thief to get into the tank

* Place gravel around the tank – Gravel makes the surrounding area noisy to walk on drawing attention to anyone trying to access the tank

* Camouflage your tank - Fit a cage around your tank or hide it behind fencing or trellis. Consider defensive planting by growing thorny or dense foliage such as Pyracantha or Berberis or use obstacles such as plant pots that will make a noise if they have to be moved

* Lock your tank - Secure the cap with locking systems such as a Spin Secure Tank Lock or Tank Arm

*⚠ Use good quality, close shackle padlocks.

If you notice any suspicious activity, record as much evidence as possible, noting down car registrations, writing descriptions of the people, or taking photographs. Do not confront trespassers — stay inside your home until you are sure it is safe.

If you have good reason to believe that there is a fuel theft in progress, you should call 999.

If you discover that a heating oil theft has already occurred, you should call 101 and report the crime immediately.

Once you have a crime number, you should get in touch with your insurance provider.