Home owners filling up tanks with heating oil after the recent freezing temperatures have been warned to ensure they follow crime prevention advice.
A number of thefts of oil have been reported in the last few days in the rural areas of East and West Kent – in Stubbs Cross, Smarden, Bethersden, Cranbrook and Edenbridge.
Sergeant Alison Oates from the Ashford policing district said: ‘It may be that thieves believe that people could be filling up oil tanks after using more fuel then usual during the recent cold weather we have been experiencing.’
As well as homes, thieves have in the past targeted churches, community buildings and business premises.
Sightings of unusual vehicles should be reported immediately to Kent Police on 101 with as much information as possible about the colour and make of the vehicle and any distinguishing features as well as the registration number. If a crime is in progress dial 999.
The following advice may help improve the security of your heating oil supply:
• 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 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.
• Plant hostile (thorny) shrubs around your tank. Thieves will think twice before forcing their way through a prickly hedge, and the smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could provide enough forensic evidence to identify the offender.
• 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.
• Install lockable caps with crop-proof padlocks/fittings and where possible provide vulnerable fuel hoses with hardened/flexible casing so that they are harder to cut.
• Remember when buying alarms, CCTV, locks or any security devices, the better the quality the longer they will last.
• If you are installing or re-siting an oil tank, consider securing the tank in an alarmed, ventilated, brick or block built, locked structure or a lockable cage, however also remember that the oil tanker driver will need access to fill the tank.
• Check your oil is covered by your household or business insurance.
For more advice on reducing the risk of fuel theft and crime in rural areas, please read 'Your guide to rural crime'
Posted on: 25 February 2013