Diesel Fuel Security Guide

Theft from diesel storage tanks and fuel bowsers


Commercial properties such as farms and transport yards will often store a large amount of fuel in bulk tanks on site for private refuelling. These premises often become easy targets for fuel thieves as they can be left unattended at night or at weekends; and staff can sometimes forget to lock up tanks or security gates at the end of the working day. A popular way to improve the security of commercial diesel storage tanks is to use a fuel management system.

The majority of commercial diesel tanks will often utilise a fuel management system, if you work for a business that stores diesel on site and you aren’t using one, you really need to consider the benefits. A fuel management system will provide your business with the ability to closely monitor the levels of your fuel tank, improve your fuel tank security and allow you to be put back in control of your fuel consumption.

A fuel management system will only allow authorised users to dispense fuel, as well as only allowing authorised vehicles to be refuelled. This prevents a thief from dispensing fuel from the tank - as the pump does not kick in until you prove you are authorised to use the pump. Your system will record the data from each refuelling transaction, including who took what fuel and when, enabling you to closely supervise where your fuel is going when it leaves your fuel tank.

There is a plethora of fuel management systems available on the market which range from the higher end of management systems, normally used by large hauliers who work nationwide, down to the more basic systems used by smaller haulage businesses. The systems found toward the higher end of the market include features such as registration scans for vehicles which are being refuelled, finger print recognition for drivers, and wireless data transfer of fuel transactions.

At the other end of the spectrum you can purchase the type of system that requires a basic level of protection such as a key or pin code to electronically unlock the pump. Obviously these systems, and all the other systems found in-between, have their own merits and ultimately it relies on what system is correct for your business.

Have you implemented anti-theft equipment to the tank itself?

• Lockable caps for your tank’s fill point and inspection chamber is the easiest method to prevent fuel from being siphoned out of the tank’s access points. This should be one of your first actions to take.

• Consider protecting vulnerable hoses with stronger casing to ensure they are harder to cut by a thief.

• The majority of electronic fuel tank monitors can be fitted to most tanks. Some oil monitors even have the ability to set off an audible alarm if the oil level in tank were to suddenly drop below the expected level or if the system detects considerable tank movement or vibration that may be caused as a result of tank drilling or spiking.

• Fuel dye can act as a deterrent as the Police can easily identify if fuel has stolen. Criminals will be forced to consider whether it’s worth stealing fuel that is protected and easily identifiable, it also makes the fuel more difficult to sell on. Some haulage firms in the UK now use fuel dye specifically so any stolen fuel can be traced back to their companies, as fuel can be their biggest expense to their business and thus warrants being protected by any means.

Do you have sufficient security lighting installed on site?

• Ensuring that your premises have high quality security lighting that makes your fuel tank and vehicles visible to passers-by is a strong deterrent to an opportunistic fuel thief.

• You can also consider installing PIR Sensors and other types of security lights, these measures can quickly make a thief change their mind about targeting your tank.

Do you have CCTV implemented on site?

• In ideal circumstances, monitored CCTV is one of the best security measures a business can take to protect its property; however the running costs here are significant.

• Whilst traditional CCTV is better than no CCTV at all, recorded footage of thieves committing crimes that have already taken place can be of limited value. However, often the threat of CCTV is often enough to deter thieves.

What signs do you have on site to deter thieves?

• Warning CCTV in operation

• Security patrols in operation

• Cat converters and property security marked

• Fuel tank has theft alarms installed

Is your tank in a secure location?

• It is important to keep the perimeter of your site secure. Strong and high quality fencing and gates can deter the opportunistic thief, and it should slow the progress of the more organised thieves so that your other security measures such as CCTV or sensor alarms have longer to respond.

• If you hold a very large amount of diesel on site, it is worth considering storing your fuel in a steel tank with roller shutter secure doors to prevent access to the tank. If you have one of these tanks, then make sure keys for the roller shutter doors are kept in a secure place.

Is your tank visible to the general public?

There are two schools of thought here, is it better to have it openly displayed where anyone can see it – deterring thieves who are afraid of being caught in the act? Or is it better to hide the tank away, where opportunistic thieves may not even know of its location? For businesses with a lot of fuel on site, we believe that the more secure your tank is, the better. If possible it should be locked away from sight in a secure and gated location, but obviously still accessible so that your business can operate seamlessly.