'Take precautions over your heating oil' - police warn
Police have warned rural householders to be vigilant after a rise in heating oil thefts from gardens as tanks are filled ready for winter.
Thousands of homes across Cornwall, mostly in rural areas, are dependent on heating oil. The increase in the price of the oil and the isolated nature of many of the homes has made them an easy target for thieves and there have been 100 recorded domestic heating oil thefts in the county so far this year. In total over £35,000 worth of oil has been stolen.
Superintendent Jim Pearce of Devon and Cornwall Police said: “This type of crime can affect the most vulnerable people in our communities; elderly people and young families who need heat and warmth to stay well but may be struggling to keep up with rising fuel costs. We urge people in rural communities to be vigilant and to look out for any suspicious activity. Talk to your neighbours and help to keep an eye on each other’s fuel tanks.”
Many of the recent crimes were not discovered for several weeks. Police say regular checking of tanks and earlier discovery would increase the likelihood of detecting the crime and catching the culprits but there are many simple steps homeowners can take to try and prevent the crime occurring in the first place.
Devon and Cornwall Police are working in partnership with local fuel companies to raise awareness of the increase in oil thefts and to offer advice on how people can reduce the chances of becoming a victim of this type of crime.
Superintendent Pearce said: “It is all about trying to make things as difficult as possible for the offender. If you read the suggestions here and act on those that are relevant for you then you can significantly decrease the risk of your oil being stolen.”
Advice from Devon and Cornwall Police includes:
• Use fencing or shrubs to hide your tank from view
• Use security lighting and install CCTV cameras
• Fit a strong lock to the tank
• If possible fit a fuel cap alarm to alert you if the cap is tampered with or a tank alarm to alert you if the oil level drops
• Check the oil level in your tank on a regular basis
• Monitor your tank and fuel pipes for signs of damage
• If you see something suspicious ring the police immediately on 101 or dial 999 in an emergency (if life is threatened, people are injured, offenders are nearby or immediate action is required)
For more information contact your local policing team on 101 or visit www.devonancornwall.police.uk