As fuel prices rise ever higher, Tayside Police are warning against thieves who are targeting fuel stores in rural areas.
The warning comes after an increasing number of incidents were reported in recent weeks where fuel has been stolen or an attempt to do so has occurred.
Around 900 litres of oil – worth about £600 - was siphoned from a tank at a rural cottage at Stracathro, near Brechin, sometime between Friday, December 7, and 11.45 am on Friday, January 14.
Between Thursday, January 13, and 2pm on Monday, January 17, there was an attempt to steal kerosene from a heating fuel tank at a farm cottage near to Bolshan Quarry, by Arbroath.
In urging vigilance and encouraging rural householders to take every security measure available to them in respect of their oil heating tanks, Claire Taylor, Crime Prevention Officer said: ‘‘There are a number of steps people can take to protect their property, including making use of the many devices on the market that are designed to enhance the security of fuel tanks.
“Tanks should be fitted with lockable devices such as closed shackle padlocks.
“There are also alarms available that are concealed within the tank and which sound when the tank is tampered with, or if there is a sudden drop in fuel.
‘‘Good quality robust fencing (try to keep fencing at the front of the property to about waist height) can discourage criminal activity and the use of thorny shrubbery such as berberis or hawthorn can also reduce accessibility effectively for any unwelcome visitors.’’
Tayside Police advises that, wherever fuel is kept in large quantities, the fuel storage tanks are kept in an area that is well lit.
If possible they should be relocated inside suitable, lockable outbuildings that can be fitted with an alarm.
Otherwise, tanks can be given the additional security of being surrounded by a metal cage. Fuel valves should be guarded against attack from bolt cutters.
In relation general security of commercial premises, security lighting should be used, access gates should always be locked out of hours and serious consideration should be given to installing CCTV systems.
Vehicles left in an open compound can also be vulnerable and should, therefore, be fitted with lockable fuel caps.
Again, where possible, vehicles should be parked hard up against a fence or wall to prevent easy access to the fuel cap for thieves.
Householders, farmers and other business owners and staff should be suspicious of people or vehicles arriving at their premises unannounced.
Wherever possible, they should note the details and descriptions not just of people who come to their door, yard or compound, but importantly of their vehicles (registration numbers in particular) and alert the police where they have even the slightest suspicion.
Anyone who is offered cheap or cut price diesel to buy should be aware that they too could end up committing a crime. They should decline any such offers and report them to the police.
For further advice on security you can contact the Crime Prevention Officer at 01307 477477.
Anyone wishing to report suspicious activity or who has information that could assist police enquiries should call Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222, or speak to any officer. Alternatively they can pass information anonymously via the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.