Maxton Scotland
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Fuel Theft and Security - Advice from Lothian & Borders Police

Heating and Diesel Oil Theft:

There can be an increase in the theft of heating and diesel oil whenever the price of crude oil rises. A rise in the price of fuel at the petrol pump inevitably leads to a rise in the cost of heating oil.
This makes oil a more attractive proposition for the thief and they can actively target fuel tanks at farms, transport depots and domestic properties.
These tanks can contain many thousands of pounds worth of oil and is therefore essential to take a few precautions to protect them.

Location of the tank:
If possible locate the tank out of sight of the main road and in view of the house. Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it can give the thief the advantage. Ensure the tank is within a reasonable distance of the road otherwise the oil supply company may not be able to refill it for you.

Securing your oil tank:
Secure your oil tank with a wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall which can give significant protection to 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 wall or fence should be as close to the tank and as high as possible, check with the relevant local authority building control or planning officer. You could also consider chemically “tagging” the fuel.

Control switches:
Control switches that control the flow of oil should be turned off and the electricity supply isolated when the tank is not in use.

Invest in a good quality lock, closed shackle padlocks are the best as they offer most resistance to thieves. Due to their design, closed shackle padlocks have very little of the metal hoop (shackle) exposed and bolt croppers cannot get a good grip.

Oil level gauges:
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.
Remember to check oil levels regularly, this will help you to monitor usage and check none has gone missing, this could also result in earlier reports of theft.

Security lights:
Consider installing security lights, low energy ‘dusk ‘til dawn’ lights positioned close to the tank should, in most cases, 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.

Closed circuit television:
You could also consider the installation and use of CCTV, however before you spend lots of money on equipment make an assessment of your needs. For advice contact your local Crime Prevention Officer on 0845 33 00 247.

Useful contact details: OFTEC or the “Oil Firing Technical Association for the petroleum industry” offers advice and guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises. There are certain rules and regulations that may apply to you and OFTEC will help clarify these for you. They can be reached at or by calling 0845 6585 080.
Remember be vigilant and report any suspicious activity including registration numbers of suspicious vehicles to the Police on 0131 311 3131 or 999 if a crime is in progress.

Back to: Our Community - Be Safe, Be Secure.

Date: 13/02/2012