Homeowners warned of oil theft risk

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Homeowners on oil-fired central heating are being reminded about the risk of oil thefts as the cold winter weather sets in.

January and February are the time when the demand for oil increases and 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.”

Sergeant Caroline Broughton, from Lincolnshire Police, added: “Heating oil theft is a reoccurring problem in the county which we are continually working hard to combat. By being aware and taking simple precautions to protect your tank you can significantly reduce the risk. No one wants to be a victim of crime, so it really is beneficial to be proactive and take measures to deter thieves from your property.

“Homeowners may also consider signing up for Lincs Alert - a community messaging system which acts as a tool for the police to give information to registered members on crime reduction and community safety issues. Members are also able to provide information to the police. To find out more, please go to: www.lincolnshirealert.co.uk”

More information on oil theft is available on the Lincolnshire Police website.

Homeowners should consider doing the following to ward off thieves:

· Fit a lockable cap or closed shackle 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