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Oil Tank Security Guide

"A guide to ensure your oil tank is properly secured"

Oil fired heating is an alternative to gas central heating for people that live off the national grid.

As heating oil prices increase, fuel tanks become a potential target and for people in rural/remote areas this is a big problem, as there are less people around to catch thieves stealing heating oil from tanks.

Therefore, we have come up with this heating oil tank security checklist and guide, so that you can ensure you’re doing everything you can to secure your tank.

Location of your tank:

An ideal location for your tank would be within sight of your home, out of sight from passers-by and not visible from the road. However, it’s also thought that if you place your heating oil tank in full view of the public, thieves are less likely to target it due to fear of being caught. Your geographic location will determine which of these options is best for you.

If you aren’t able to relocate your tank, there are other ways to improve your oil tank security:

Defensive planting* – can obstruct and deter access to your tank, especially if planting is thorny/prickly. Pushing through rugged hedges is likely to leave traces of evidence via ripped clothing or by injuring, potentially leading to identification and conviction.

Gravel surrounding your tank* – can deter thieves due to the noise created when walked on.

Property boundaries – ensuring your property has a sufficient boundary such as fencing, will make it more difficult for thieves to enter and exit your property.

Finally, if possible, there is the option to store your tank in a secure structure with a lock and alarm – please ensure that access is available for your delivery driver and that your structure complies with OFTEC regulations and standards.

Suitable security equipment:

Cost effective solutions such as lockable caps and fittings for tank fill points and inspection chambers* are a good way to start with heating oil tank security.

Oil monitors are a good way to keep check of your oil tank level – some monitors have an audible alarm for when the oil suddenly drops below the expected level, or for when excessive vibration or movement is detected. It’s always a good idea to keep a regular check of your oil level, as this will give you an indication of how much and how regular you are using. This will give you an indication of when a sudden drop in fuel has happened – meaning your fuel has potentially been stolen, or an oil leak has occurred.

Security lighting, PIR sensors and other types of security lights can deter thieves from targeting your tank too, as most thieves won’t want to attempt a theft in a well-lit/highly visible area.

For tanks not visible from the house or commercial tanks on sights which are unmanned overnight, CCTV may be an option. If seen, this can immediately deter would-be thieves – and to ensure the cameras are seen, ‘warning CCTV in operation’ signs should do the trick.

At the very least, ensure your property is closed and secured/locked at all times, and that gates, fences and other perimeters are in good repair.

Raising awareness:

Promoting awareness throughout your community via organisations such as the Neighbourhood Watch can ensure extra vigilance from neighbours and will help strengthen your relationship with the community.

Some areas establish an Oil Buying Club to buy fuel in bulk, saving money on delivery costs and minimising the disturbance from delivery vans.

However, it’s well known that thieves will follow delivery vehicles to help them identify tanks which are full – therefore community organisations are useful for fuel tank security and can create a visible presence to deter thieves, but it’s always best to be extra vigilant when deliveries are ongoing or have been made.

Also, one simple but potentially effective way to help the community is to note the registration and description of any suspicious vehicles or people, as this can help with investigations if a fuel theft was to occur.

Other precautions to consider:

Check that you are covered for your fuel on the household insurance – if you’re not, amend your policy so that you are!

Maintain a tidy property and don’t leave scrap metal on show, as this can attract opportunistic criminals.

Engineers won’t call unexpectedly – don’t allow anybody to view or work on your tank unless expected, and always ask for identification.

*Remember: Authorised access is still needed for yourself and the fuel delivery driver, so don’t completely prevent access to your tank.

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