Police urge vigilance over heating oil thefts

YOU wouldn’t leave £500 cash lying about – so why would you leave your oil tank unprotected and a target for thieves?

Officers from Norfolk Police’s Operation RADAR team, which specialises in investigating rogue traders and bogus callers, are asking all residents who use heating oil tanks to check the current level on their oil tanks.

These checks are especially important after receiving a delivery of heating oil as homeowners will be able to better monitor the speed at which the oil is used by their boilers.

The months of December and January generally see an increase in thefts of heating oil but officers are concerned the trend may continue later in the spring.

Crime prevention officers are aware of digital oil alarms which homeowners can purchase. These alarms sound an audible signal should the oil level in tanks significantly reduce over a short period of time.

Detective Sergeant Peter Jessop, from the Operation RADAR team, said: “All residents are encouraged to check the level on their heating oil tank and regularly monitor the level to help identify if they have been a victim of heating oil theft. This will assist a police investigation if the crime times can be narrowed down.

“Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a harder target for thieves. Low energy ‘dusk ‘til dawn’ lights positioned close to the tank provide enough light to illuminate any suspicious activity.”

As well as taking the necessary precautions to avoid oil tanks from being targeted, members of the public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity in residential areas, in particular around heating oil tanks. Police will act on any reports of suspicious behaviour and car registration numbers will be monitored.

DS Jessop continued: “If a stranger knocks and your door to try and sell you heating oil at a discounted price, be wary. It is likely the individual will be a rogue trader so you should decline and immediately call the police.”

Norfolk Home Watch Association are supporting Norfolk Police’s initiative to reduce the number of heating oil thefts in the county.

Association chairman John Bebbington said: “Heating oil tanks can hold over £1,000 worth of oil, which is a lot of money to lose if your oil tank is targeted by thieves.

“As the primary aim of Home Watch is to prevent crime and help with the detection of criminals, I would urge all Home Watch co-ordinators and members who live in areas where heating oil is used to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, as recommended by the very effective Operation Radar team. They should advise their neighbours of the need to monitor oil levels in their tanks using the devices outlined above.

“Reporting any suspected oil thefts or even reporting any doorstep callers selling heating oil will provide valuable information to the police for their investigations.”