Rural homeowners in Northamptonshire on oil-fired central heating are being reminded about the risk of oil thefts as winter sets in and warned to remain vigilant throughout January and February when the demand for oil may increase.
A Rural Crimes survey showed that fuel was the third most attractive commodity for thieves targeting rural properties. This, coupled with more severe cold weather and increasing oil prices likely in the coming months, makes heating oil prone to theft.
Paul Golley, Crime Prevention Manager for Northamptonshire Police, said: “Heating oil theft is a reoccurring problem in the county, particularly in the more rural areas, and is something we are working hard to reduce. By being aware and taking simple precautions to protect your tank, you can significantly reduce the risk. No one wants to be a victim of crime, so it really is beneficial to be proactive and take measures to deter thieves from your property.”
Malcolm Farrow, from OFTEC, the Oil Firing Technical Association, commented: “This is an issue that we can’t stress enough at this time of year as no one wants to run out of oil and risk going cold. If more people are aware and vigilant of oil thefts in rural communities, hopefully there will be fewer victims of this crime.
“Thefts can take place at any time of year as thieves are extremely opportunistic. However, January and February often brings the harshest weather and this, combined with people feeling the pinch after Christmas, can make the early new year a popular time for thieves to strike.”
Homeowners should consider a substantial locking device, warning people the tank is alarmed and installing CCTV.
Anyone with information about oil thefts can call police on 101.