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Safeguard your heating oil

In recent months there has been a significant increase in the theft of heating oil and diesel from fixed surface tanks from both homes and business premises as rising oil prices have led to opportunistic thieves striking.

Thefts vary from small amounts being stolen, to the whole tank being drained. The methods used range from the decanting or siphoning into cans or drums, to pumping into bulk tanks mounted in or on a criminal's vehicle. They can also be very crude, including drilling holes in the side of the tank and smashing and cutting sight tube gauges or supply pipes.

These attacks not only impact on the financial loss of fuel, but where oil has been allowed to run free can also lead to serious ground or water course pollution, adding clean up costs and possible action by the regulatory authorities.

So what can you do to protect your oil supply?

Firstly you should undertake a risk assessment to establish the value and quantity of the oil in your tank, its location and the presence of any external perimeter security, the general security protection for your entire premises and the presence of any nearby rivers or other water courses.

After this assessment you should then consider taking the following actions based on the level of risk identified:

  • Conceal the location of the tank by using hedging, fencing or walling and consider increasing perimeter security around your entire premises
  • If the tank is situated within a building ensure doors are locked securely at all times
  • Consider installing security lighting or CCTV around the tank location
  • Consider installing an alarm device. Specialist tank alarm systems can detect lifting of the inspection cap or rapidly falling oil levels
  • Increase the Physical security of vent caps, inspection apertures, filling points, dispensing nozzles etc by installing specialist locking devices
  • Remove any empty containers or drums from the area around the tank which could be used by opportunist thieves
  • Ask your neighboring property owners to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to yourself or the police.

Also remember to monitor the level of oil in your tank regularly; usually the first indication that a theft has taken place is when your heating system doesn't work by which time it's already too late!

Published 27th March 2012

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