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Police warning after series of heating oil thefts

Monday, 7th October 2013.

With the nights beginning to draw in and the temperature outside starting to drop Suffolk Police are advising residents to ensure their heating oil is kept safe this winter.

There has been a series of thefts from the rural area around Haverhill in recent weeks, and Haverhill police are asking people to be extra vigilant.

They would also like to hear from anyone who sees a van or a 4x4 vehicle, which might be used by the thieves, parked in a suspicious area, or anyone suspicious hanging around.

Traditionally police see an increase in reports of heating oil thefts between November and March as residents put their central heating on and order more oil supplies.

On average in 2012 there were 14 reports per month of heating oil thefts with 30 incidents reported in February.

This year the Suffolk Police Community Safety Unit has produced a leaflet of security advice aimed at people with domestic heating oil tanks. It reminds residents to take a few simple steps that can help to make their tank and fuel more difficult for thieves to target.

These include:
· Screen your tank with fencing or hedges;
· Close and secure any gates leading to the tank;
· Conceal or cover any external pipes and fuel lines;
· Install dusk to dawn security lighting. CCTV is also a good deterrent;
· Install lockable caps supported by a closed shackle padlock;
· Consider installing a tank alarm;
· Join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

The Community Safety Unit is also currently engaging with all major oil suppliers across Suffolk with the intention of supplying them with quantities of the leaflets to be given to the householder at the time of delivery.

Crime Reduction Officers will also hold stocks of the leaflets and can be contacted for further advice.

Community safety manager Alan Osborne said: “With the colder months approaching we advise residents with heating oil tanks to take security measures to help minimise the risk of becoming victims and to discourage thieves.

“It can be very useful to invest in security lights, locks and alarms, which can deter a would-be criminal. It is worth considering investing in an alarm, there are many types now on the market and some of these can be linked to your house alarm.

"Furthermore, keep the tank itself as secure as possible and try to leave it unlocked for as short a time as possible.

“Finally, we would also recommend residents regularly check the level of the fuel tanks. During cold weather consumption of oil may be higher than householders think and if levels aren’t checked it could lead to reports that oil has been stolen.”

Jeremy Hawksley, director-general of OFTEC, the UK trade body for the oil fired central heating industry, said: “Taking steps to protect your oil as you fill up this winter is vitally important. Something as simple as installing a security light near your tank can help to deter thieves and give you peace of mind.”

Anyone requiring more in depth security advice or a copy of the leaflet is invited to contact Suffolk Police on 101 and ask for the crime reduction officer for their area.

Owners of oil tanks should noted that some storage containers are plastic and some are metal, so any security measures which directly affect the tank or pipe work should always be installed in consultation with the tank supplier.

Haverhill Online News

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