Watch out for oil thieves in Mid Ulster, say police

Stay cosy this Christmas - watch out for oil thieves
Stay cosy this Christmas - watch out for oil thieves

As householders and business owners move take advantage of lowering oil prices by filling their tanks, the police are advising everyone to be aware of heating oil thefts.

Crime Prevention Officer Joanne Smyth said: “Police are keen to increase awareness about this crime type and help the public to protect themselves against thieves.

“We will be distributing leaflets and asking some of our local oil distributors to do the same to let the public know what measures they can take to prevent them from becoming a victim of crime.

Here are 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,” a police spokesperson said, “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 PSNI crime prevention officer on 101.