Heating oil storage tanks can hold up to thousands of pounds worth of fuel, because of the outdoor and remote location it can make it an easy target for theft. Oil is not the easiest thing to steal, so chances of being targeted are relatively low however it still does occur.
How Heating Oil is Stolen
To steal oil, thieves will often syphon, decant or pump oil directly from your tank into another container. It can then be sold on or used personally. It has been reported before that the more organised criminals will follow oil delivery tankers to scope out houses that have just had a recent fill of their tank. They would then come back and take the oil.
Steps to make sure your fuel is safe
Make sure your oil tank is hidden from the road- Fencing, huts, plants, hedging and trees are all good options to keep your tank hidden, however making sure your tank is accessible is just as important for your delivery driver to be able to fill your tank. You also need to be sure you are complying with OFTECS Fire-safety regulations. You need to be sure your tank is :
1.8m away from non-fire rated eaves of a building
1.8m away from a non-fire rated building or structure (e.g. garden sheds)
1.8m away from openings (such as doors or windows) in a fire rated building or structure (e.g. brick built house/garage)
1.8m away from oil fired appliance flue terminals
760mm away from a non-fire rated boundary such as a wooden boundary fence
600mm away from screening (e.g. trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary.
Security lighting or CCTV near your tank is a good way to ward off any intruder and can also alert neighbours. If anyone does decide to take your oil there would be more of a chance of catching the perpetrator through video footage.
Locking Your Tank
Fit a specialist lock cap or pad lock- having one of these attached on your tank can deter any thieves as they would be unable to access any fuel.
Checking Your Oil Monitor
Some remote oil level monitors are available in which will emit an audible alarm to a unit in your house when your oil goes below a certain percentage. By keeping an eye on this regularly you can be sure no oil has been taken.
Bunded tank- Having a bunded tank offers a much more secure way of storing your fuel as it is a tank within a tank, making it more complicated for access. However it is not impossible as the fuel line can still be cut and drained.
Consider installing your heating oil tank indoors- As well as protecting your tank from low temperatures, placing your tank in a shed or garage can restrict access to the tank and it is unlikely to be targeted for theft as thieves are unable to see if you own a tank or not. Some regulations have been put in place to install your heating oil tank indoors, it must :
Have a capacity of 3500 or lower
Must be a bunded tank
ventilated to the outside
Is contained alone within a one hour fire resistant chamber.
Defensive planting can be placed around your tank which could deter any burglars and make life harder for them. Read Gloucestershire CrimeStoppers PDF on Defensive planting your garden
Heating Oil & Tank Insurance
It’s best to check your home insurance policy to be certain you are fully insured to make things easier if you ever fall victim of oil theft. Not only will you suffer the cost of replacing oil but there is a chance the tank could be damaged in the process. A lot of home insurance do not cover heating oil theft so it is recommended to take out insurance to ensure your tank and oil is protected.
Reporting a heating oil theft
If you notice any suspicious activity it is best to get as much information as possible, noting down car registrations, descriptions or take photographs whilst avoiding confrontation to stay as safe as possible. However if you notice a theft in progress immediately call 999 and follow any instructions provided by police.
If you have discovered that someone has already taken your oil without you being present, contact 101 and report the crime. Passing on any relevant information will increase chances of them being caught. To avoid getting re- targeted it is important you take measures