The following has been provided by Lee Hurley, PCSO, Huntingdonshire..

Heating oil theft is most prevalent in the first three months of the year when tanks are likely to be full and the days are short. However, thefts occur year-round, so it pays to be vigilant at all times.

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 targeted again, please see the following suggestions:-

Monitor your tank: Check the tank gauges regularly to alert you to any sudden drop in oil level, which might indicate a theft. This action might also help the police in any subsequent investigation by narrowing down the times of the offence

Where possible, keep you tank out of sight: If installing a new tank, you should consider the placement very carefully. Ideally, your tank should not be visible from the road and should not be placed near any external gates or doors. If possible, install your tank out of sight.

Tank security: Fit a sturdy lock to the fill cap of your tank (and also the vent cap, if possible), and consider installing a security cage or protective casing to your tank and any exposed pipes. Ideally, any casing should be locked with a closed shackle padlock, which can’t be easily broken with bolt croppers.

Install security lighting: Install a motion sensor security light to alert you to any late-night visitors.

CCTV: The cost of CCTV systems has dropped over the past few years, making basic packages more affordable. If you decide to install a system, you should also place a ‘CCTV’ sign on your gate to let any potential thieves know that you are taking measures to protect your property.  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.

Signage – this is called rule setting: A cheaper alternative to CCTV is to place a ‘Beware of the Dog’ sign on your garden gate. Thieves tend to avoid houses that have dogs, as they may bark and attract attention during a theft.

Boundary fencing: Restricting access to the tank in the first instance is very important, so make sure your boundary walls and fences are up to the job and lock driveway access gates, doors and garages at night and when you are away

Neighbourhood Watch: If you are going on holiday, ask a neighbour to keep an eye on your oil tank and report any suspicious activity.

Turn it off: When your tank is not in use (i.e. during summer or when you are away) turn off your boiler and secure any control switches, as this will make it harder for thieves to get oil out of the tank.

Add Insurance: As with any valuable item, you should check that your heating oil supply and tank are covered by your home insurance.

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.

 Useful Links:  Free property registration website, used by Police forces to help track lost or stolen items Official Police security initiative