Fuel Security News
Tue, October 28, 2014 - 4:35:00
Fuel theft is an infuriating crime – it leaves companies with no fuel to fill their vehicles or machinery and it leaves homeowners with no heating oil to heat their home. What’s even more infuriating is the cost that’s left behind, because not only do many have to pay for the damage caused to tanks and other repairs such as forced entry, there’s the cost of refuelling the tank and it can leave the victim in a damaging financial situation.
For our customers we believe it’s essential that they are aware of the specific figures of fuel theft, so we contacted Thames Valley Police and asked them to provide us with this data from the last five years. This appeal was part of the Freedom of Information Requests that we sent out to police forces across the United Kingdom, to create reports which give our customers the vital information on fuel related crimes, in order for them to remain cautious.
Thames Valley Police were happy to help and responded with the necessary statistics. This data gave us the information we needed to create this report on fuel related crimes in the Thames Valley area.
Fuel thieves are increasingly targeting heating oil tanks
This graph shows that heating oil thefts in the Thames Valley area has considerably increased over the past five years.
Splitting heating oil theft into theft from domestic properties and theft from commercial properties, excluding those classed as ‘other’, reveals huge results. Thefts from domestic properties, including driveways, gardens and dwellings totalled 281 thefts over the past five years. However, thefts from commercial properties, including farms (barns, yards, houses and fields), industrial estates, schools and social clubs totalled 96 thefts over the past five years.
Within the 96 commercial heating oil thefts, there were 11 types of property which had a total of 24 thefts. These properties included churches, doctors’ surgeries, playing fields and social clubs – and we assume that these thefts are one off incidents, as the social nature of the property suggests that the outside areas are normally busy or have people passing by regularly, and therefore thieves would usually see this as a risqué place to steal from.
However, the remaining 72 thefts involved properties such as yards/compounds and farms. These types of property are normally located in rural or isolated areas and are usually left unmanned in the evening, throughout the night and sometimes in the early morning. This therefore would give thieves the opportunity to steal the heating oil from the storage tanks and thus gave much higher results than the social commercial property thefts.
These results show that domestic properties are more often targeted in comparison to commercial ones, and this could be down to several reasons. Domestic properties using heating oil are usually in rural areas, where there are low numbers of people living, less street lighting and neighbours are normally not within close proximity, meaning thieves are more likely to target due to there not being much chance of being caught. Commercial properties are normally located in built up areas, where there are people walking and driving past throughout the day and evening and streets have better lighting.
Diesel thefts at their lowest in five years
The graph reveals that diesel thefts in the Thames Valley area have been quite steady from 2009 to 2012, and that there was a decline in thefts in 2013 – something which we hope to see continue in the future.
The fall in diesel thefts in 2013 came at the same time in which heating oil thefts peaked by a substantial amount, this lead us to assume that thieves were more actively targeting heating oil rather than diesel fuel.
As with the heating oil statistics, there are property types which had diesel fuel stolen from them which were one off cases. These cases involved properties such as sports stadiums and golf clubs – which are likely to have people on the premises at numerous times of the day, meaning it would be difficult for fuel to be stolen; and also sewage works, for which we think has obvious reasons as to why it wasn’t targeted very often!!!
However, some commercial property types have a high number of diesel theft cases associated with them, these include building sites, farms and yards/compounds.
Building sites are usually in built up areas but are normally gated off to the public and unmanned during the evening/night. This would give thieves a difficult entrance to the site where the tank’s located, but once inside (unless caught breaking in) they would be undetectable to passers-by, giving them the opportunity to steal fuel without getting caught.
Similarly, farms and yards/compounds are typically located in rural or isolated areas, and therefore are prime locations for thieves to target. These sites are usually unmanned during the evening, night and sometimes early morning and are less likely to have people passing by – again giving thieves the opportunity to steal fuel without getting caught.
There are precautionary measures that people can take, whether there tank is for domestic or commercial use. One way of deterring thieves is by making the tank inaccessible, this can be done by surrounding it with plant pots, shrubbery, or enclosing it somehow, such as housing it in a small out building or shed. There are also security devices you can purchase to keep tanks secure such as tank locks, and also tank gauges which monitor the tanks fuel level and alert the owner when the level drastically changes without having to go and physically check.