This is a question on the minds of many UK households. Heating oil, like so many other energy products, is a highly valuable commodity. Here, we investigate what households can do to prevent heating oil theft.
How much oil theft is there?
Despite the rate of rural crime increasing from 2014 to 2015, the cost of thefts from rural homes has decreased slightly in 2015, down to £6.2m from £7.1m in 2014. Despite this, according to NFU Mutual, the National Farmers Union Mutual Insurance Society, the average claim for thefts from rural homes was still significant at over £2,400. Heating oil is a valuable commodity, yet many people don’t think to secure it as such. We’re here to give you tips on how to protect your oil tank.
Heating oil and diesel theft rates have declined, dropping out of the top 5 most frequently targeted items in rural theft, but according to OFTEC CEO Paul Rose, this trend has “quite likely been influenced by the sustained fall in heating oil prices we have seen over recent times”. What this could mean is as prices bounce back from the lows of early 2016, heating oil theft rates could indeed follow suit.
How can you prevent theft?
There are several things you can do to improve the security of your tank:
- Tank locks: fit a sturdy lock to fill the cap of your tank (and also the vent cap if possible). Ideally you should use a shackle padlock, that can’t easily be broken with bolt croppers.
- Screening: Ensuring fences are high enough to hide the tank from passers by, or planting bushes around you tank will keep opportunists away.
- Security Lighting: A lot of heating oil thefts take place at night, so fitting a security light can help deter thieves. If you install one with a movement sensor and it is visible from your house, the light may also alert you if there are thieves in your garden.
- Fuel level alarms: A fuel tank alarm system is now one of the standard pieces of equipment on many fuel storage tanks, offering both convenience and also security. Often customizable, you can set your alarm to alert you when you reach below a certain level of heating oil.
- Sign up to Oil Theft Alerts: If you’d like to receive alerts on heating oil thefts reported in your area, all you need to do is login to your account to change your preferences and opt in.
What to do if your heating oil has been stolen
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from heating oil theft, there are several steps you should take:
- Call the police: As soon as you notice any oil theft or damage to your tank, report it to the police. You may also need to hand over any evidence that you might have in your possession (for example, CCTV footage or physical evidence from your garden).
- Check your insurance policy: After a theft, contact your insurance provider as quickly as possible. You need to make sure that any damage is covered and ask what information you need to provide for them to release your payment.
- Warn your community: Thieves often hit several homes in one area over a period of days – warn other heating oil users in your village by contacting the neighbourhood watch, notifying local newspapers or registering the theft on Oil Theft Watch.
- Damage control: Unfortunately, it is very common for a tank to be damaged during a theft. If this happens, you need to get it repaired quickly and deal with any heating oil spills quickly and safely. An OFTEC registered technician can advise you on the correct course of action and inspect your tank for signs of leakage.
Heating oil users often have hundreds of pounds of worth of oil in their gardens. Protecting your assets securely can ensure you don’t go cold.
Sign up to our free oil theft alerts. You can login to your account and change your preferences to do this.
We also sell a heating oil tank lock which you can purchase from the BoilerJuice shop today.