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The Oil Theft Issue: Why Rural Homeowners Must Limit Their Risk

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Almost 1.1 million households in the UK are relying on heating oil to heat their homes. These homeowners are away from the hustle and bustle, but whilst the quiet life of the countryside can sound appealing, it does come with some risks.

One of those risks is oil theft. Nearly 25,000 cases of oil theft were reported in 2018, and the issue isn’t showing any signs of disappearing anytime soon. In November last year, 30,000 litres of oil were taken from a farm in Wales.

Police forces across the country are also urging people to stay vigilant in rural areas.  urged people in rural areas to take extra care after £250 worth of heating oil was taken from a property in Thornton-Le-Moor.

Today, we take a closer look at the latest available statistics and show what can be done to stop oil theft, including what alternatives to oil heating exist to help minimize risk.

 

Statistics By Region

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Based on the latest available statistics, Dyfed-Pows, Gwent, and the West Midlands have experienced the biggest increase in oil thefts across the UK.

  • Dyfed-Pows (98%)
  • Gwent (80%)
  • West Midlands (48%)

Dyfed-Pows has a population of 500,000 is mostly a rural coastline. Gwent is a rural area of Wales and the West Midlands is also home to countryside and off-grid homes.

Port of Dover is the only place listed with zero oil theft reports. the biggest decrease was found in Avon and Somerset, with a 45% reduction in thefts reported.

FUEL THEFTS REPORTED TO POLICE FORCES IN THE LAST THREE YEARS
Region 2018 2017 2016 Change YoY 2016 v 2018
Greater London 13799 15743 14739 -12% -6%
West Yorkshire 4123 4839 4624 -15% -11%
South Yorkshire 2779 3313 2529 -16% 10%
West Midlands 2215 2198 1501 1% 48%
Hertfordshire 2132 2478 1965 -14% 9%
Lancashire 2121 1933 1467 10% 45%
Cambridgeshire 1890 2178 1456 -13% 30%
Staffordshire 1817 1662 1439 9% 26%
Essex 1453 1888 1755 -23% -17%
Merseyside 1208 1502 1533 -20% -21%
Devon and Cornwall 1010 1000 918 1% 10%
Northumbria 836 926 1153 -10% -27%
Norfolk 813 754 581 8% 40%
Suffolk 693 643 488 8% 42%
Bedfordshire 571 1284 994 -56% -43%
Cleveland 559 625 598 -11% -7%
Avon and Somerset 553 686 1001 -19% -45%
Dyfed-Powys 542 454 274 19% 98%
Durham 133 103 139 29% -4%
Gwent 90 71 50 27% 80%
Derbyshire 57 68 61 -16% -7%
North Wales 19 24 20 -21% -5%
Port of Dover 0 0 0 0% 0%

Source: thisismoney.co.uk

 

Limiting The Risk

If you’re reliant on oil to heat and fuel your home, there are ways you can minimize the risk of theft on your property.

CCTV – CCTV is one of the most common ways to put thieves off from stealing. It can also make you aware of the problem before it’s too late.

Security lighting – Thieves tend to come out at night, so a property that remains well-lit overnight will help to deter them from entering your property. It is another way to put them off.

Lock your tank – It’s always good practice to secure your tank with a padlock. Putting gravel around the tank can also make it harder for oil to be taken, or the tank itself.

Switch gas – Fuels such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) can be a great alternative to heating oil. LPG is almost impossible to steal and storage can come in the form of an underground tank – so it’s out of plain sight.

LPG also has a 20% lower carbon intensity than oil, so it’s more sustainable and better for the environment.

 

The Winter months

Winter starts in December and doesn’t end until March, so the cold snap can be felt for quite some time. Snow and ice exaggerate the need to stay warm, with the reliance on an off-grid energy supply more vital during this time period.

Police statements have been produced recently to warn residents of the need to be extra vigilant, especially as the pandemic has been causing delays in the export of oil.

Although oil theft will remain as long as oil is a precious commodity, action can still be taken to prevent it from happening, especially for domestic homeowners.

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Praneet Samaiya
the authorPraneet Samaiya
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