More oil thefts reported

More oil thefts reported

Householders across the country are being urged to protect their heating oil supply from thieves. Police are asking all residents who use heating oil tanks to check the current level on their oil tanks.

These checks are especially important after receiving a delivery of heating oil as homeowners will be able to better monitor the speed at which the oil is used by their boilers. The months of December and January generally see an increase in thefts of heating oil but officers are concerned the trend may continue later in the spring.

 “All residents are encouraged to check the level on their heating oil tank and regularly monitor the level to help identify if they have been a victim of heating oil theft.”

Det Sgt Pete Jessop, Operation RADAR

Detective Sergeant Peter Jessop from Norfolk Constabulary’s Operation RADAR team which is dedicated to preventing and investigating rogue traders and bogus callers said:

“All residents are encouraged to check the level on their heating oil tank and regularly monitor the level to help identify if they have been a victim of heating oil theft. This will assist a police investigation if the crime times can be narrowed down.

“Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a harder target for thieves. Low energy ‘dusk ‘til dawn’ lights positioned close to the tank provide enough light to illuminate any suspicious activity.”

Crime prevention officers are aware of digital oil alarms which homeowners can purchase. These alarms sound an audible signal should the oil level in tanks significantly reduce over a short period of time.

As well as taking the necessary precautions to avoid oil tanks from being targeted, members of the public are encouraged to report any suspicious activity in residential areas, in particular around heating oil tanks. Police will act on any reports of suspicious behaviour and car registration numbers will be monitored.

Det Sgt Jessop continued:

“If a stranger knocks and your door to try and sell you heating oil at a discounted price, be wary. It is likely the individual will be a rogue trader so you should decline and immediately call the police.”

Norfolk Home Watch Association is supporting Norfolk Constabulary’s initiative to reduce the number of heating oil thefts in the county.

Association Chairman, John Bebbington said: “Heating oil tanks can hold over £1,000 worth of oil which is a lot of money to lose if your oil tank is targeted by thieves.

 “I would urge all Home Watch co-ordinators and members who live in areas where heating oil is used to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, as recommended by the very effective Operation Radar team. They should advise their neighbours of the need to monitor oil levels in their tanks using the devices outlined above.

“Reporting any suspected oil thefts or even reporting any doorstep callers selling heating oil will provide valuable information to the police for their investigations.”

In 2010 (1 Jan – 31 Dec) there were 186 incidents of heating oil theft compared to 147 incidents over the same period in 2009. There were 36 incidents reported in December 2010 compared to 11 in December 2009. There were 48 incidents in January 2011 compared to 33 in January 2010. There were 35 incidents in February 2011 compared to 22 in February 2010.

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