Heating oil tanks can be an attractive target for thieves and becoming a victim of heating oil theft is a is a costly, inconvenient and upsetting experience. Protecting your home heating oil is more prevalent at this time of year, as many homes have topped up their tanks to see them through the cold, winter months, making them an ideal target.
Emo Oil have outlined five useful tips to help protect your home from heating oil theft. You will also find some advice on what to do should you become a victim.
One of the easiest ways to secure your heating oil tank is to fit a lock on to the opening of the tank. Locks come in a range of sizes and generally take just a few minutes to install. Always install sturdy locks on your caps, openings and vent caps if possible. You should, ideally, use a shackle padlock, that isn’t easily broken with bolt croppers thus making it as difficult as possible for the thieves to steal your oil. Tank locks aren’t expensive, so this is very economical way to protect your heating investment.
2. Tank alarms
Some electronic oil level gauges can be linked to an alarm inside your home. If the oil level suddenly drops, the alarm will sound and alert you to the theft (or maybe a leak.) Make sure your alarm is working effectively by checking that your tank gauges are working correctly and don’t forget to check the alarm’s batteries on a regular basis.
You could also display a warning sign or sticker as an extra deterrent to let thieves know that your tank is both locked and alarmed.
3. Security lighting
Many heating oil thefts take place at night, so installing a motion-activated security lighting will startle any trespassers and could alert you to their presence. Additionally, this light may also alert you if there are thieves in your garden. However, do not install security lighting if your tank is out of sight as this will help rather than hinder a possible theft. Discreet outdoor cameras can also be mounted around the oil tank so that you can see clearly if anyone has made an attempt to steal your fuel.
4. Check your insurance
Ensuring you are fully insured for oil theft will make life easier should you ever find yourself in this unpleasant situation. Find out what your household insurance covers and whether your current plan covers you for oil theft, damage and clean-up costs. If not, shop around the market to avail of the best deals.
5. Keep your tank hidden
A tank should ideally be situated away from any external gates or doors and out of sight from the roadside. If your tank is already in position and clearly visible, ensure your fences are high enough to hide the tank, or plant bushes or shrubbery around your tank to prevent easy access and visibility and keep would-be thieves away.
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, you should call the non-emergency police number and report the crime immediately. You may also need to hand over any evidence that you might have in your possession which may prove vital to your case. Once you have a crime number, you should get in touch with your insurance provider.
- Check your insurance policy
After a theft, contact your insurance provider as quickly as is possible. You need to make sure that any damages are covered and ask what information is needed for them to release your payment.
- Warn your neighbours
Thieves will often target several homes in one area over a period of days, so it is essential to warn others in your local community by contacting the neighbourhood watch, notifying local newspapers or, if available, register the theft on Oil Theft Watch.
- Damage control
It is very common, unfortunately, 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 will advise you on the correct course of action and inspect your tank for signs of damage.
Oil theft is a serious problem, but by putting these simple measures into practice you can significantly reduce the risk of this crime happening to you. Remember, the more measures you have in place, the less likely you are to be targeted. Protecting your assets securely can ensure you don’t go cold this winter.