News From OilFiredUp
Heating Oil Thefts Increase By 4%
2nd June 2011
New research by fuel tank supplier TankDepot.co.uk, reveals that reported instances of heating oil thefts increased by approximately 4% during 2010.
The research was commissioned by TankDepot.co.uk and completed by independent heating oil industry consultants, J Switzer Associates. Every police force in the UK was contacted under the Freedom of Information Act, and requested to provide the number of reported heating oil thefts in their area during 2009 and 2010. Responses were received from 33 forces across the country, revealing the number of reported incidents in surveyed areas increased by 4.33% to 2,407 during 2010.
Different reporting categories and metrics make it difficult to make direct comparisons between forces. However, the Devon & Cornwall force had the largest number of reported heating oil thefts of any UK region during 2010, with 836 instances - a decrease of 123, compared with 2009. Northern Ireland, which has the highest prevalence of oil heating in the country, reported the second highest number of thefts with 727 occurrences during 2010 - an increase of 11.14% on the previous year.
Nationally, the picture is mixed. A number of forces, primarily in urban areas, reported zero incidents of fuel and heating oil theft during 2010, whilst in a total of eight police areas, the number of thefts actually fell.
Commenting upon the statistics, Steve Beech, TankDepot.co.uk's Technical Director says, "As the price of any commodity increases, so too does its attractiveness to criminals. Heating oil is no different in this regard. Given historically high energy prices during the past few years, it is hardly surprising that the number of reported incidents continues to increase.
"It is important however to put these figures into context. Even in somewhere such as Northern Ireland, which has a relatively high number of reported heating oil thefts, such incidents represent less than 1% of total reported crimes. And of course in many parts of Great Britain, fuel and heating oil thefts either remained stable or fell. The reality is that heating oil and fuel oil is difficult to transport, awkward to handle and the resale market for suspiciously cheap fuel from previously unknown suppliers, is very limited.
"That said, it makes sense for fuel oil and heating oil users not to be complacent and to make the criminal's life as difficult as possible. Fuel tank manufacturers and oil equipment suppliers have been quick to respond to increased reports of fuel oil thefts and there is a wide range of locking devices and alarms available. Retail prices for lockable oil tank caps, typically start from as little as £18 including VAT... or around 99% less than the cost of replacing the contents of a typical 2,500 litres capacity domestic oil tank. Oil tank alarms, which are becoming increasingly popular at domestic oil storage installations, now start from as little as £24 inclusive of VAT.
"Today's heating oil and fuel oil tanks are also better protected than ever. For instance, all Harlequin Bunded Tanks come complete with lockable fill point, lockable manhole access and lockable inspection point and all Harlequin Advance Bunded Tanks and are now supplied with unique Spin Secure locking technology as standard. Fitted to the manhole access point on the tank, the Spin Secure locking device spins freely when locked, making it almost impossible to remove without a key.
"Kingspan's Titan range of Bunded Tanks now benefits from the revolutionary WatchmanAlarm, which not only remotely and wirelessly displays the level of fuel inside the tank, but usefully incorporates a fuel theft warning alarm. In the event of a sudden drop in the level of fuel inside the tank, the alarm is activated, providing remote notification to the property owner or householder. The WatchmanAlarm is also as available as a stand-alone product option, and can be quickly and easily fitted to most existing tanks with no specialist tools or equipment required."
Anyone who may be concerned by heating oil theft is advised to contact their local Police Force's Crime Prevention Officer for further guidance on how to minimize the risk of fuel theft. Alternatively, advice and assistance is forthcoming from many fuel distributors and heating oil technicians. Consumers are also recommended to check with their broker and ensure they have adequate insurance coverage in the event of heating oil being stolen from their fuel tank - not all home insurance policies automatically include heating oil cover.