Gardaí warn homeowners to secure home heating oil after reports of theft nationwide

As oil prices surge, a Garda spokesperson said a similar targeting of oil tanks was last seen 'during the recession in 2008'
Gardaí warn homeowners to secure home heating oil after reports of theft nationwide

Sarah Slater

Gardaí are warning homeowners to secure their home heating oil after reports of theft around the country as prices increase dramatically.

The warning follows several reported thefts across Laois, Offaly, Galway, Limerick, Kilkenny, Wexford and Carlow over the past week.

Gardaí are advising home and business owners that they should put some preventative measures in place to avoid being targeted by thieves.

More than 1.5 million households in the Republic of Ireland are heated with heating oil or kerosene, according to the price watchdog oilprices.ie.

Prices have risen sharply from an average of €400 for 500 litres countrywide in December, to just above €750 on March 3rd - a jump of €350. Galway is the most expensive location to buy 500 litres at a cost of €872.15, while the cheapest place is Sligo with a price of €650.

Gardaí are advising the public to check oil levels frequently, arrange smaller but more frequent domestic oil deliveries, and be vigilant after a delivery.

Oil tanks targeted

A Garda spokesperson for the Laois/Offaly division, which has had several reported oil thefts, said: “Oil prices are rising so sharply that oil tanks are now being targeted.

“The last time something similar to this happened was during the recession in 2008 onwards. So we are warning the public to be aware of these thefts and to take precautions, some of which are simple to do.

“One measure would be to plant shrubs or erect fencing to screen tanks from view from the road and being vigilant after a delivery.”

The spokesperson also advised that where possible, homeowners should try to also install automatic movement sensor security lighting around the tank. Lockable access gates or lockable fencing around the tank, including over the top, should also be considered.

“Consider fitting an alarm system which warns if the oil level drops suddenly, be aware thieves may return to steal replacement oil following an initial theft, and note suspicious vehicles’ registration numbers and report them to Garda," the spokesperson added.

Examples of improving the security of domestic heating oil tanks include placing the tank as close to the house as regulations allow and in view of one or more windows, which may make a thief consider the chance of being seen too high to risk.

Security lights can also make a property a much harder target for a thief, while defensive planting is nature's way of helping to reduce crime, with thieves not wishing to force their way through or over a prickly hedge, the spokesperson said. Furthermore, planting such as trees or hedging can be used to make the oil tank less visible from the road to passing traffic.

A good quality closed shackle padlock fitted to the tank opening should be your starting point, the spokesperson continued, and securing the oil tank with a wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can give significant protection to the tank.

“Remote electronic oil level gauges are available which will set off an audible alarm when the oil level drops dramatically, as would happen if there were a leak or theft, and alerts the receiver unit. There are units on the market today that will even send a text alert to your mobile phone.

“Installing CCTV may sound extreme. However, small infra-red cameras are fairly cheap these days. A covert camera to record the number plates of any cars or vans entering your driveway could help. It may not stop thieves but could help trace them later. Placing a highly visible camera on your property may act as a deterrent to thieves, especially in areas where natural surveillance is scarce.

“A lot of farmers in particular are going for new security products on the market which monitor a yard by wireless beams when a person is not there. When activated if somebody enters a yard, the owner is notified on their phone by a monitoring station.”

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