LOCAL householders are warned to be on their guard against fuel theft this winter as thieves target rural homes for central heating oil. OFTEC, the UK trade body for the oil fired heating industry, is warning oil users to think about the risk of oil theft in their area and take the necessary precautions to protect their tanks from theft.

In recent years oil thefts have increased across the country due to exceptionally harsh winters and higher fuel prices. This trend is expected to continue as the weather turns colder, with the number of thefts increasing as homeowners replenish their tanks. Therefore, OFTEC is warning oil users to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions now to protect their oil and reduce their risk of theft throughout the winter period.

Malcolm Farrow, of OFTEC, said: “Unfortunately, oil is a valuable asset so this is a problem we’re seeing more frequently. Quite often oil users don’t know anything has happened until their heating suddenly stops working and they are horrified to find that their tank has been drained, so it is good practice to check your tank level regularly.

“The fuel tank can be damaged in the process of theft so it’s not just the cost and inconvenience of replacing the oil that users need to be aware of. In extreme cases a new tank is required which can leave someone without heating for several days and with quite a hefty bill.

“The good news is that there are some simple things that can be done to limit the risk of theft, such as fitting lockable caps and installing a security light to deter thieves. Electronic level gauges and alarms are also very effective in alerting someone to a sudden drop in their oil level.”