Latest: Police alert on heating oil thefts

Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee
Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee

Police are advising householders and business owners to be aware of heating oil thefts, as many people are now ordering a fill of oil, as we head into autumn.

Detective Chief Inspector Catherine Magee told The Coleraine Times: “The theft of heating oil from homes and businesses has been a rising crime trend across the local policing district. Police are keen to increase awareness about this crime type and help the public to protect themselves against thieves.

“Police would also like to remind people to look out for their neighbours, particularly older or vulnerable people. Ironically, it is often these groups of people who need heat and warmth the most, to stay well and can sometimes struggle to meet fuel costs.”

Detective Chief Magee also urged everyone to follow a few steps to help prevent oil thefts:

- Lock your gates: The simple act of keeping your garden or drive gates closed and securely locked can prevent a theft. Ensure that all gates and fences are in good repair.

- Disguise your tank: Consider fencing, trellis and defensive planting. The planting of thorny bushes around your tank and boundaries can provide extra protection.

- Create obstacles: Plant pots and general garden paraphernalia can be placed in the path of any potential intruders. They will make noise and waste time moving the items or navigating around them. You would still need to ensure an access route for deliveries. Remove and secure any tools or ladders which could be used as an aide to commit crime.

- Lock your tank: Use a good quality, alarmed padlock or install lockable caps with crop-proof fittings. Where possible fit hardened flexible casings, to any vulnerable fuel hoses, so that they are harder to cut.

- An anti-tamper device called a ‘Tank Commander’ can be used to raise an alarm and alert your mobile phone when a possible theft occurs. Further details can be found by searching online for ‘Commander Securities’ or asking your local Crime Prevention Officer, by calling 101.

- Industrial or farm tanks: Can be protected using a Commander device. Other factors to consider include a protective cage, improved fencing and a review of general yard lighting, CCTV and working practices. Your local Crime Prevention Officer can offer further advice - please call 101.

- Lighting: Consider fitting sensor lights to brighten up dark areas around your home, particularly areas around the oil tank.

- Don’t forget be a good neighbour: Check on older neighbours or relatives who could be vulnerable to this type of crime.

People should be on the lookout for any suspicious activity in your local area. We take all such reports very seriously.

Thieves operate at different times of the day and if you notice anything untoward in your neighbourhood, or see unknown vehicles outside premises, note down any important details such as a description or vehicle registration and contact police immediately on 999. Officers will follow up on your call and your prompt information could prevent a crime from occurring.

For further crime prevention information, please contact your local crime prevention officer on 101.