How to Protect Your Fuels and Oils from Thieves

The safe storage and easy access of a whole range of fuels, oils and lubricants are the essence of many businesses with vehicles and machinery to operate. No matter whether your business operation is a rural farm or agricultural business, a factory or other business on an industrial estate or a school, university, or any other type of organisation. Even homes using heating oil are not immune to fuel theft either.

The one thing all of these businesses and organisations have is the thousands of pounds worth of fuels and oils they have stored on their properties on a daily basis that thieves want access to. No matter how hard businesses try, each and every year millions of pounds worth of fuel is stolen all across the UK.

According to NFU Mutual, red diesel and heating oil are the third most common items that are stolen from farms, and further research revealed that fuel theft cost British farms an estimated £1.4m between January 2013 and December 2014.

So how do you avoid becoming a victim of fuel theft?

Nobody wants to start their day, dealing with the aftermath of a break-in of their business or home, or of the theft of their stored fuels. It can often be a huge inconvenience, especially if you’re left with little to no heating oil in the winter months or fuel to operate your vehicles or machinery.

As so, we’ve put together some suggestions which we hope may help you to avoid becoming the victim of fuel theft yourself.

Avoid making your fuel storage tank too visible or accessible

Of course, you’re filling you’re refilling your fuel storage tanks they need to be accessible. But that doesn’t mean all other times, that they should be easily accessed by criminals.

If you’re installing a new storage tank, you will have more options with the positioning and location of your new tank. But for those who already have their tanks installed, it may be less easy to have them moved on your property. But if possible, you should try and ensure that your storage tank is not visible from public roads and out of sight from passers by.

Choose a stronger storage tank

One of the sad realities is, thieves care little for the damage and destruction they leave behind, so if they cannot get through the cap due to a padlock or other locking methods, they will often find another way of accessing your fuels and oils.

For instance, if you have a cheaper, plastic tank, thieves may consider it easier to attempt to break directly into the tank, rather than trying to remove any locking devices. Of course this won’t always be the case as it’s still likely to be a time consuming endeavour. But it really depends on how determined somebody is to get access to your fuels and oils.

A better option, would be to go for a steel fuel storage tank which will be better for security, as it will not be as easily accessible to opportunistic thieves by drilling or cutting into the tank, and also are also less likely to deteriorate and crack as they age, like could happen with a plastic tank.

A steel container is also going to be heavier and thus, less likely to be stolen. So whilst a steel container may initially be more expensive to purchase in comparison to plastic storage tanks, they should stand up better to attack by criminals if targeted, meaning they are less likely to be severely damaged and require replacing if your fuels or oils are stolen.

Keep your storage tanks locked

If possible, you should ensure that your storage tank locking mechanisms are kept locked when not in use. If others have access to the storage tank too, you should also ensure that they’re aware of this policy and know to keep it locked when not in use.

Whilst tank locks are a useful deterrent against opportunistic thieves and will prevent many would be thieves from making off with your fuels and oils. Determined and skilled thieves will often find a way around any locks and other deterrents.

So more often than not, it’s a case of making life as difficult as possible for them to the point where they’ll move on and find an easier target instead. So although locks are an imperative measure to take, they should not be the only means of protection you adopt.

Keep thieves out with fencing and gates

As well as securing the storage tank itself, making it more difficult to reach the tank itself will help to slow down any attempted fuel thefts. The additional time it’d take to break through the additional security measures could be enough to either put off a would be thief or increase the chances of them being caught as they spend a longer period of time breaking in.

The types of ‘fencing’ you could consider, could be as simple as prickly shrubs and bushes around the perimeter of your tank, with a locked access gate. Even the most determined of thieves will have second thoughts about climbing through well developed prickly shrubs and bushes.

This solution would probably suit a domestic property where the homeowner maybe didn’t want the eyesore of high fences on their property It would also help the storage tank blend into their garden better.

A more secure solution would be build high fencing around your storage tank, this could be a wooden fence or a metal fence, also with an access gate to the storage tank. Again, this would help to hide away your storage tank from passers by.

Of course, you could go one step further and use both fencing and natural deterrents like prickly bushes and shrubs. Whatever you decide on, it’s important to both keep your storage tank out of view of passers by and also make it more difficult to gain unauthorised access to your stored fuels and oils.

Just remember to keep ladders and anything else an opportunistic thief might make use of to bypass your chosen security fencing methods.

Implement storage tank alarms

There’s often going to be times when all of the security barriers you put between thieves and your fuels and oils just aren’t enough. Whatever you do, they’ll find a way through to get access to what they want. As so, installing a tank alarm will help by altering you when your oil levels begin to decrease suddenly.

This will also have the double benefit of altering you should your storage tank develop a leak, ensuring you can prevent an even greater environmental problem from fuels spilling around your storage tanks into the ground.

Also on a day to day basis, you can use the tank monitors to keep tabs on your fuel levels, so that you  can try and avoid the risk of running dry. Allowing you to keep on top of your usage as well, so that you can plan ahead and keep topped-up.

Motion activated lighting

The long winter nights often see more fuel theft because the extended cover of darkness presents more opportunity to go unnoticed. Security lighting is a great way to put off thieves and also alert you if someone is in the area.

If your property or the location of your storage tank is in a particularly dark location. This will be ideal for thieves as they can ‘work’ in the dark with less chance of being detected in the dark. So make it difficult for them to go undetected by installing motion activated security lighting.

This is especially useful if you plan on installing CCTV cameras, as it will make it easier to capture more details about the criminals and their activities overnight.

Consider installing CCTV cameras

These days, some CCTV camera systems are far cheaper and easily installed by homeowners and businesses owners, with many systems available with cloud storage (you will need an Internet connection) and motion activation, using the same technology as doorbell cameras.

Of course, the far more expensive systems and expert installation are available to those with the budget, which will often provide far better picture quality.

Whichever CCTV system you opt for, these should hopefully thief off but if not successful, it provides valuable evidence for the police to find the culprits. Let’s face it, whichever system you choose is likely to be much cheaper than the contents of your tank.

Include visible signage

Of course, most criminals will ignore any warning signage around your property, but it’s important to include warning signs about your security measures to ensure that any would be thieves, vandals or trespassers are made aware of preventative measures such as barbed wire for instance.

But also signs alerting people to your CCTV, tank alarms and other methods to reduce crime may also help to deter opportunistic thieves from considering your storage tank to be an easy target.

Since these signs are a cheap and yet effective way to put off opportunistic thieves. It’s worth including them across your property to show you have taken steps to protect what is rightfully yours.

Need to replace an old storage tank?

If after reading our advice on how to protect your fuels and oils, you have started to re-look at your storage tank and wonder if it’s fit for purpose. Sometimes you may actually find that many of our suggestions can help you to secure your fuels and oils if you are unable to replace your old storage tank.

Of course, if you have had your storage tank a few years and know it has seen better days or simply want an upgrade to something that will help you to secure your fuels and oils against theft.

We have a wide range of fuel storage tank solutions to help reduce the risks from theft and contamination. Call our fuel storage experts today on 01282 775431 to find out more and see how we can hep you.