Heating oil theft, although rare, does happen. Tanks can be potentially storing thousands of pounds’ worth of oil and the rural setting can create an attractive target for thieves.
Thieves will decant, syphon or pump oil from your tank into containers to use themselves or sell on. They use a number of tactics to locate tanks, either just spotting them out or using technology, such as google maps, to look for houses with tanks.
We have put together a guide of useful tips to protect your home from heating oil theft, as well as what to do in case of a burglary.
Choosing a tank
When it comes to security, steel tanks are more robust compared to plastic as they are not as easily drilled into, the tanks are also much heavier so criminals can’t move them to make it easier for them. Rix have a number of tanks available, when purchasing research all your options and speak to one of our specialists if you need any advice.
Location of your tank
There are a lot of regulations when choosing a location for your oil tank and it can be tempting to have it as far away and out of sight as possible. However, having it closer to your home and visible from a window means you will see any suspicious activity.
There are also a number of other options such as installing your tank inside an outbuilding or underground. This has the benefit of not only deterring thieves from trying but also disguises the ownership of an oil tank to begin with.
However, when installing a new tank - particularly indoors or underground - ensure that it complies with all government standards and guidelines.
Not in a position to move your tank?
There are a number of security measures that can be taken to deter criminals or alert you to anyone tampering with your tank.
Oil tank cages
An oil tank cage will be an extremely effective form of security for your oil tank, creating an extra barrier between people and your tank. This would be concreted or bolted to the ground and must have enough room for maintenance and deliveries to take place.
Hiding your heating oil tank
A lot of tampering with oil tanks occurs as people spot an opportunity, if your tank is exposed particularly to a road it would be a good idea to conceal it. This can be done with a fence, wall, plants or trellis (with the perk of making it much prettier in your garden!). But do always ensure that there is enough room for deliveries and it complies with OFTEC’s fire-safety recommendations.
Security lights aren’t just useful for your front door! Install one facing your tank to startle any trespassers and alert you that someone is near your tank.
Do not install security lighting if your tank is out of sight: this will help rather than hinder would-be thieves.
CCTV cameras are a huge way to prevent thieves as it means any attempt to take your oil could result in them being caught. It also has a second benefit of supporting any insurance claims if the thieves do still target your oil tank.
When choosing a CCTV camera take into account how far away it will be situated from the tank as this will affect the picture quality. Most thefts will occur at night, so a night vision camera will ensure good quality footage of any tampering.
Make it difficult
Surround your tank with gravel and prickly plants – this will deter thieves from even trying with it being extra hassle. The noise and pain will make the criminals think twice and can help alert you to something going on outside.
Lock your tank up
Usually, the inspection cap on your tank will have eyelets to enable padlocking. However, you may need to purchase specialist locking bars for other access points. Remember that you should not lock your tank vent. Ensure any padlocks used are of a high quality as they are likely to bring tools that can break cheaper locks.
What to do if your heating oil is stolen
Only call 999 to report a theft in progress. You should call 101 to report a theft that has already occurred. Find more information in the sections below.
Reporting a heating oil theft in progress
If you notice any suspicious activity, record as much evidence as possible. This might mean 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 theft in progress, you should call 999 and await instruction from the police.
Once you have a crime number, you should get in touch with your insurance provider.
Reporting a heating oil theft that has already occurred
If you discover that a heating oil theft has already occurred, you should call the non-emergency 101 police number and report the crime immediately.
Make sure to save any relevant CCTV recordings and pass on any other pertinent information to the police. Once you have a crime number, you should get in touch with your insurance provider.
If a thief successfully steals from your heating oil tank, it's important that you implement extra security measures to reduce the risk of being retargeted.
Installing a new tank and want to ensure it is as secure as possible? Speak to a member of our Heating services team on 01482 222250