Heating Oil Thefts

It is that time of year again when the weather gets colder, the nights gets darker and everyone tends to spend a lot of time indoors. It is also that time of year when people order heating oil to get them through the winter.
The night of the 7th – 8th October, there were five heating oil thefts in the village of Tysoe. We want to remind people to vigilant and to advise the team of any suspicious activity. Shipston SNT have put the below advice regarding the placement of your tanks and extra crime prevention advice with regards to protecting your tanks. The purpose of the advice is to give you a few ideas about what can be done to make life more difficult for the thief.

Where can you put the tank?

The position of the tank can have a significant effect on how hard a target it is in the eyes of the thief.

* If the tank is close to the house, with one or more windows capable of giving a view of it, then the thief may consider the chances of being seen too high.
* If the tank is close to a road, path, drive or alleyway then it will be a far easier target for the thief.
* Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it does give the thief the advantage.
* Tanks need to be within a reasonable distance of the road otherwise the oil supply company may not be able to refill it for you. Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it does give the thief the advantage.

A good thief will come equipped with a limited range of tools to attack your tank so its worth spending a little more on good quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are the best as they offer most resistance to the most popular of burglar tools – the bolt cropper. Due to their design, close shackle padlocks have very little of the metal hoop (shackle) exposed and bolt croppers cannot get a good grip.


Remote electronic oil level gauges are now available which will set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full. These gauges can be located in the kitchen or perhaps a utility room to warn of any potential problem. There are two or three different versions on the market at the moment and cost between £70 and £100.

Security lighting

Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a much harder target for the thief. Low energy “dusk til’ dawn lights positioned close to the tank should provide sufficient light to illuminate any suspicious activity. This type of light can be both effective and inexpensive. High powered lights can be used but care should be taken not to cause any nuisance to neighbours or road users.

Defensive Planting

This is natures way of helping to reduce crime. Thieves will not wish to force their way through or over a prickly hedge. The smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help the police identify the offender. Prickly shrubs and bushes can, if planted around your tank, provide an effective and decorative thief proof barrier.


Fences and walls can also make life difficult for the thief. A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank but it must be remembered that the oil tanker driver will need access to fill the tank. A metal grill or cage with a lockable access point across the top of this wall or fence can further improve security.


The use of CCTV as a crime prevention and a crime detection tool has grown massively in recent years. It could play a part in the protection of oil tanks but before you spend lots of money on equipment make an assessment of your needs. Ask yourself:
* What do I hope to achieve by using CCTV?
* How much am I prepared to spend?
* Is there a reasonable level of light where the cameras will be operating or do I need to think about using cameras with low light capability? (most thefts take place at night).
* What am I going to record the captured images on – digital recording is best?
* How am I going to provide the police with any evidence I may capture?

Good neighbour agreement
Some fuel companies offer a good neighbour agreement in which you and your neighbours can get fuel delivered at the same time. This not only could be cheaper for all the properties involved but you have a set date in which the fuel will be delivered. This means, if you see a tanker delivering fuel outside of these dates you may well think there is something suspicious. And this can work the other way too and allows your neighbours to be vigilant when you are away from your property.
If you notice tankers or large vehicles close to your property – take down any details if you think they may be suspicious and report to the police. Regardless how minor you might think the information is, please let us know.
Kind Regards
PCSO 6234 Hayley Ditchburn BA (Hons)
Shipston Safer Neighbourhood Team
Warwickshire Police
Shipston Police Station
Tel: 01789 444 670
Extension: 4673
Mobile: 07879 608 696
Voicemail: 16234
Email: hayley.ditchburn@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk
To find out more about your local team visit: www.safer-neighbourhoods.co.uk