Rural homeowners across East Riding on oil-fired central heating are being reminded about the risk of oil thefts as winter sets in and warned to remain vigilant throughout January and February when the demand for oil may increase.
A Rural Crimes survey showed that fuel was the third most attractive commodity for thieves targeting rural properties. This, coupled with more severe cold weather and increasing oil prices likely in the coming months, makes heating oil prone to theft.
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, the Oil Firing Technical Association, commented: “This is an issue that we can’t stress enough at this time of year as no one wants to run out of oil and risk going cold. If more people are aware and vigilant of oil thefts in rural communities, hopefully there will be fewer victims of this crime.
“Thefts can take place at any time of year as thieves are extremely opportunistic. However, January and February often brings the harshest weather and this, combined with people feeling the pinch after Christmas, can make the early new year a popular time for thieves to strike.”
Neighbourhood Police Inspector, Rob Cocker, Humberside Police, added: “Several isolated incidents of domestic fuel theft were reported to Humberside Police in the East Riding last winter. This is clearly an expensive and upsetting crime for the householder and our officers do everything they can to bring those responsible to justice. By being vigilant and taking simple precautions to protect your tank you can significantly reduce the risk of becoming a victim of this crime. You can take some simple measures to help deter thieves.”
Homeowners should consider doing the following to ward off thieves:
· Fit a lockable cap or padlock to your tank
· Install a motion detecting security light
· Buy a fuel gauge alarm
· Display a warning message to say that your tank is alarmed
· Install a CCTV camera near your tank
· Look out for suspicious vehicles, especially on the day of your oil delivery
· If possible try and hide oil tanks from view of the road and passing vehicles. Fencing or vegetation can help to camouflage the tank.