How to Avoid Heating Oil Theft

If you are one of the millions of domestic properties choosing heating oil as a cost-effective and efficient way to heat your home, fuel an oil cooker or provide a continuous supply of hot water, your oil tank may become an attractive and lucrative target for fuel thieves. Although it is not possible to completely prevent heating oil theft, there are measures you can take to try and ensure that you do not become a victim of this crime yourself. 

The location of your oil tank

Where you position your oil tank will have a significant effect on whether it is worth the thieves’ time and effort. It is recommended that your oil tank is located outside and above ground. Domestic oil tanks that are located closer to the property and overlooked by windows or CCTV may be considered too high risk by thieves. 

You may also want to surround your heating oil tank with tall evergreen bushes to offer some extra camouflage, however, be sure to leave several feet between the tank and the bushes. Whilst it is important to consider the security of your heating oil tank, it is also important to ensure that the location is accessible to oil tanker drivers. An unsafe or difficult location will make it complicated to safely fill your oil tank.

What are the rules about where a tank can be located? 

There are specific rules governing the location of oil storage tanks and it’s important to take these rules into account if you are making changes to your property. 

The rules are in place for fire safety reasons, OFTEC recommend tanks should be sited: 

  • 1.8m away from non-fire rated eaves of a building
  • 1.8m away from a non-fire rated building or structure (e.g. garden sheds)
  • 1.8m away from openings (such as doors or windows) in a fire-rated building or structure (e.g. brick built house/garage)
  • 1.8m away from liquid fuel appliance flue terminals760mm away from a non-fire rated boundary, such as a wooden boundary fence600mm away from screening (e.g. trellis and foliage) that does not form part of the boundary. 

If it is impossible to comply with the separation distances, then a fire protection barrier (with a minimum 30 minutes fire rating) should be provided. The separation distance required between the tank and the fire barrier should be a minimal 300mm unless a greater distance is specified by the tank manufacturer. It is possible to site a fuel storage tank inside a garage or out-house; however, they need to be self-contained within a 60-minute fire-rated chamber.

Noise and light 

Why not gravel the access route to your tank, or around the tank? This will make noise when it is walked over and alert you and deter a potential thief. Security lights can also make any property a much harder target for a thief. Low energy 'dusk til dawn' lights positioned close to the tank should, in most cases, provide enough light to illuminate any suspicious activity. 

Invest in high-quality padlocks

A thief will usually come equipped with tools to attack your tank, so it’s worth investing in good quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are most effective as they offer the most resistance to tools such as bolt croppers. If possible, padlocks should be shrouded to make bolt cropping of locks or brackets difficult for an offender.

Heating Oil Monitors 

Remote electronic oil level gauges are available. If the oil level in your tank drops at an unusually fast rate, the receiver will emit an audible alarm. As well as alerting you to theft, it will also alert you to leaks and as a reminder to top up your tank when your heating oil levels get low. 

Be vigilant 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 by telephone on 101.

Emergency Heating Oil 

Whilst taking preventative measures should deter thieves and increase your protection from heating oil theft. If you fall victim to oil theft despite your preventative efforts, we'll always try to get to you as quickly as possible with a delivery, contact us on 01476 576200 and our team will be happy to help.