Home > Staying safe > Safer countryside > Heating oil theft

Heating oil theft

A domestic oil tank can contain many hundreds of pounds worth of oil so we advise you to take precautions to protect it. OFTEC or the 'Oil Firing Technical Association' offers advice and legal guidance for those who use and store oil at their premises.

Storing the tank

  • If the tank is close to the house, with one or more windows capable of giving a view of it, then the thief may consider the chances of being seen too high.
  • If the tank is close to a road, path, drive or alleyway then it will be a far easier target for the thief. Tanks do need to be a reasonable distance to a road otherwise the oil supply company may not be able to refill it.
  • Hiding the tank behind the garage, shed or some other type of outbuilding is fairly commonplace, but it does give the thief the advantage.


A good thief will come equipped with a limited range of tools so it is worth investing in some quality locks. Close shackle padlocks are the best as they offer most resistance to the most popular of burglar tools as they have very little metal which make it difficult for bolt croppers to grip.


Remote electronic oil level gauges are now available which will set off an audible alarm if the oil level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a quarter full.

Security lighting

Security lights can have a very positive effect and make any property a much harder target for the thief. Low energy “dusk til’ dawn lights positioned close to the tank should in most cases provide sufficient light to illuminate any suspicious activity.

Defensive planting

Plant prickly shrubs and bushes around your tank to provide an effective and decorative barrier. The smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help the police identify the offender.


A wooden or metal fence, trellis or wall can protect the tank but considerations must be made to allow the oil tanker driver access to fill the tank. We advise you install a metal grill or cage with a lockable access point.


CCTV can be used as a crime prevention and detection tool, but this method can be costly so we advise you consider the following before investing in this measure:

  • What do I hope to achieve by using CCTV?
  • How much am I prepared to spend?
  • Is there a reasonable level of light where the cameras will be operating or do I need to think about using cameras with low light capability? (Most thefts take place at night).
  • What am I going to record the captured images on? – Digital recording is best.
  • How am I going to provide the police with any evidence I may capture?