If you keep your heating oil in an outdoor tank, is it fully secure? Homeowners may wish to review their security measures in the wake of a new report from NFU, that has highlighted an increase in rural crime in the UK.
According to the latest NFU Mutual Rural Crime Survey, the cost of crime to the UK’s rural economy reached £44.5 million in 2013. This was up by 5.2 per cent on the previous year.
The firm stated that the theft of livestock, high-value agricultural equipment, pesticides and fuel hit farming businesses hard, leading to a wave of insurance claims.
NFU reported that the most commonly targeted items were tools, followed by all-terrain vehicles and quad bikes, and then oil and diesel.
So many homeowners and businesses were forced to claim for fuel they had paid for, but never got to use due to the actions of thieves.
Overall, Cambridgeshire was the worst-affected county for rural crime, with claims totalling £2.7 million last year.
Tim Price, rural affairs specialist with NFU Mutual, highlighted the extent of the risk to countryside homes and businesses.
“There is no doubt that both opportunist criminals and members of international criminals are targeting farms,” he stated.
“While the first group will often move on to an easier target if they see a farm that has even basic security in place, the latter are professionally organised with a specific target.”
Last month, Newsletter reported that a farm labourer was convicted of stealing heating oil from an elderly neighbour in Banbridge, County Down.
Presiding in Banbridge Magistrates’ Court, district judge Paul Copeland heard how the victim’s daughter spotted four oil drums, one of them filled, and a hose coming from her mother’s heating oil tank. Police seized the hose and tested it for DNA, revealing a profile matching 28-year-old Stephen Weir.
If you are worried about heating oil theft in your area, sign up for oil theft alerts at OilTheftWatch.