Red Diesel Thefts from Farms and Smallholdings

October 15, 2013 | Heating Oil Theft/Tank Security

As we move into the winter season, we are seeing the usual pattern of increasing red diesel thefts from farms and smallholdings. In the last few days Scottish and North Yorkshire Police have made appeals regarding thefts in their areas and issued warnings to be vigilant.

Whilst prices of red diesel are lower than they were at this time last year, large stocks of the fuel found in remote areas such as farms is an obvious temptation for thieves. There is strong demand for black market red diesel so they know they will always be able to move the stolen fuel on.

The cost to farmers and smallholders of red diesel thefts is more than just the expense of replacement fuel and the inconvenience. Often thieves will damage tanks or equipment such as teleporters/mobile bowsers and farm vehicles and, in some cases gas oil will be spilt leading to expensive clean-up costs and possible damage to the local environment.

Farms and smallholdings are particularly vulnerable because of their remote location but there are things farmers can do to reduce red diesel thefts including:

  • Locate red diesel tanks in areas overlooked by housing or inside a building that can be locked and alarmed.
  • Turn off power to the tank when it isn’t in use e.g. over night
  • Use tank locks and shackle padlocks to secure tanks.
  • Install a fuel tank monitor that will alarm if there is a sudden drop in red diesel levels.
  • Where possible, don’t leave mobile bowsers in remote locations unattended.
  • Park vehicles so that access to the tank is more difficult e.g. against a wall or, even better, locked in a secure location.
  • Consider using CCTV to deter thefts.
  • Consider security lighting BUT this can be an aid to thieves as well so needs careful consideration.
  • Fill vehicles in the morning rather than evening so that they are not sitting overnight with full tanks.
  • Consider planting thorny plants (known as defensive planting) to make access to red diesel tanks more difficult and to screen the tank from view.
  • Make sure all staff on the farm are aware of the risk of red diesel thefts and report any suspicious activity immediately.
  • Speak to the local crime prevention officer. They will be able to give further advice about red diesel thefts in the area and offer further advice on preventing thefts.


Recent news about red diesel thefts on farms:

Scottish Police warn on red diesel theft:

Police investigateed diesel thefts from farm in Skegness :


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