Heating oil theft prevention guide

snowy weatherMore than 1.5 million homes throughout the UK depend on heating oil. Most of these homes are in rural areas, which makes them prime targets of heating oil theft. Thieves use a range of methods including siphoning, decanting, and pumping oil from the tank into other containers. If you are one of the many British homeowners who relies on ‘off grid’ energy, then you should be thinking about how to increase your tank’s security. Below are some of the best ways to prevent heating oil theft.

Secure your tank

You should employ a number of security measures to minimise the chances of your tank being targeted by thieves. One defensive technique is an oil tank cage, which creates an extra barrier for thieves to contend with. The cage should fully enclose your tank, while leaving enough room for maintenance and deliveries, and be either cemented or bolted to the ground.
Furthermore, if your tank is clearly visible from afar, it's advisable to hide it behind a fence or wall. However, if you choose this security measure, you must ensure it complies with OFTEC's fire-safety regulations.

Security Lighting

It is advisable to install some kind of motion-activated security lighting if your oil tank is visible from your home. This will startle any potential thieves and alert you to their whereabouts. You can also make use of low level ‘dusk to dawn’ or motion lighting, to help reduce heating oil crime. Please note, if your tank is out of sight, then you should not install security lighting, as this will help thieves.

Alarm systems

Some electronic oil level gauges can be linked to an alarm inside your home. If the oil level suddenly drops, the alarm will sound and alert you to the theft. Rix Petroleum’s heating oil alert system automatically monitors your tank levels for you. This type of alarm system can also act as a deterrent, as you can display a 'This tank is alarmed' sign on the tank as well.

Tank locks and padlocks

Specialist locking bars can be bought to safeguard access points on your heating oil tank, such as the inspection cap. It is important to secure all of your tank’s access points, as thieves often come prepared with tools. However, you should never lock your tank vent/breather, as this will cause it to split. We also recommend purchasing high-quality padlocks, such as closed-shackle locks. These are particularly good because they’re difficult to access with bolt cutters.


Finally, installing CCTV cameras is a good theft deterrent, because most thieves target homes without any obvious signs of surveillance. Plus, if a theft does take place, the cameras also provide evidence for insurance claims. When purchasing CCTV, you should consider the overall picture quality, night vision ability, and memory. CCTV42 offers a number of surveillance products specifically designed to prevent heating oil theft.