NFU Alert on Rural Fuel Thefts

NFU Mutual is urging rural homeowners to be vigilant as figures from the leading rural insurer show that theft of oil, diesel and other fuels from domestic premises doubled in 2022.

With inflation and other factors pushing up the price of fuel throughout last year, the overall cost of fuel theft has also rocketed by 244%. The average cost of each theft of fuel from domestic premises was over £3,000 in 2022, an increase of more than £1,200 on 2021.

NFU Mutual has seen claims for the theft of heating fuels, which are generally much more commonly used in isolated rural homes, increase in both quantity and cost. Unfortunately, these fuels need to be stored on site and often in larger quantities, making them a top target for thieves. As prices remain high, NFU Mutual is concerned that the increase in the number of thefts could hold in 2023.

Andrew Chalk, Rural Insurance Specialist at NFU Mutual, said:

“We know from years of experience helping members fight rural theft that when prices rise, thefts rise with them, and sadly this is borne out by these latest figures.

“Criminals are opportunistic and NFU Mutual has had reports of thieves siphoning off domestic heating oil from storage tanks, sometimes targeting the same property more than once.

“With fuel orders often coming with lengthy delivery times, thefts can callously leave homeowners without heating or hot water when temperatures are at their lowest, not to mention damaging the storage tanks and risking pollution.

“And with isolated rural homes more dependent on these fuels to heat their homes, the knowledge that their property could be a target for thieves can make homeowners and their families feel vulnerable.

“To help the rural community prevent fuel theft where possible, NFU Mutual has put together a short checklist of security measures.

“Thieves are always looking for opportunities, so it helps to obscure storage tanks from view. Criminals also don’t like to be seen, heard or held up, so measures like fitting tank alarms, security lighting or CCTV, and making sure the property isn’t easily accessible should help dissuade criminals.

“We know that thieves will often target several properties within an area, so we’re encouraging people to share information about suspicious sightings with their local community and police. We recommend joining local Neighbourhood Watch schemes and there are also a number of farm watch and rural watch groups on social media which are fast becoming the eyes and ears of the countryside.”

With the price of fuel having risen dramatically in recent years, homeowners who rely on these should make sure they are adequately covered and have the right value if the worst happens, as well as taking steps to combat theft where possible.

NFU Mutual fuel security advice:

Tank, contents and location

  • Regularly check fuel levels in storage tanks and record the number, storage capacity and refill dates of tanks.
  • If possible, keep storage tanks in enclosed areas with secured access, as well as shielding the tank from sight by planting hedges or trees.
  • Be aware that fuel tanks located further away from buildings are more vulnerable.
  • Fit a fuel tank alarm to notify you of an attack on fuel tanks. Remote electronic fuel level gauges will set off an audible or monitored alarm if the fuel level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a defined level.
  • Fit exposed oil-lines with a protective cover (e.g. hard plastic/PVC).
  • Regularly inspect and maintain storage tank.
  • Ensure a bund wall (e.g. brick, block or metal) is installed and kept clear to reduce the risk of pollution from oil or diesel.

Site security

  • Keep gates closed and locked, and block entrance and exit points that aren’t used.
  • Activate intruder alarm systems, which may have a local sounder or remotely monitored signalling.
  • Consider installing security lighting to illuminate any suspicious activity.
  • Consider purchasing a motion-activated security camera.
About alastair walker 11422 Articles
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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