Norfolk Police are urging residents to be vigilant as reports of heating oil thefts often increase during the winter months.
The warning comes after 100 incidents in 2016 where heating oil was a factor. There have been more than 110 in 2017 so far.
Community Safety Superintendent Jason Broome said: “An increase in the price of heating oil can result in oil tanks being targeted by thieves and we would urge people to take some simple measures to secure them.
“Just keeping an eye on oil levels in your tank and fitting a good quality locking device is a good start, but we’d also recommend installing security lighting or CCTV cameras.
“We’re also asking communities to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity. If you spot something suspicious at a friend, neighbour or relative’s house, or at a nearby business premises, call police on 101 or dial 999 if a crime is in progress.
“This also includes calling police immediately if you are cold called by someone trying to sell you heating oil at a discounted price. It is likely the individual will be a rogue trader so you should turn them away. Always buy from a reputable source, and once your delivery has been made make sure you re-secure your tank and gates.”
General tips to protect your fuel include:
• Check oil levels frequently so you are aware if anyone has tampered with your supply, and consider an electronic oil level gauge which sets off an audible alarm in your house if the oil level drops below a quarter full.
• Fit a good quality locking device to all fuel tanks – a high quality closed shackle padlock will make access using bolt croppers very difficult.
• Consider perimeter security for the whole tank, such as a metal cage or fencing. Even a prickly hedge may help deter thieves. Remember, however, that the oil tanker driver will need to access it.
• Control switches should be located in a secure building and turned off when the tank is not in use.
• If you’re installing an oil tank or considering repositioning it, they should ideally be situated within sight of nearby occupied buildings. It may not be so aesthetically desirable, but the more remote the better the opportunity to access the tank without being seen.
• Consider appropriate lighting around the tank so you can see and anyone can be seen. Be considerate to your neighbours and don’t use high powered lights which affect their property. Lighting is not the answer to all problems and site specific advice should be taken where lighting is being considered.
If you have been a victim of oil theft, or have any information regarding heating oil thefts in general should contact Norfolk Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.