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Devon and Cornwall Police Update: Theft of heating oil and petrol on the increase

Police have started to see an increase of Heating Oil Theft with 4 recently reported in West Devon. This amounts to thousands of pounds at today’s prices and with fuel prices likely to remain high for the foreseeable future this type of crime is likely to continue.

Published: 13 March 2022

The content of large full tanks can be worth thousands of pounds to thieves, with no regard whatsoever to the disruption and cost to the Victims. Locks on fuel tanks are being removed or broken, causing yet more cost to residents, farms and estates. Fuel can be stolen from vehicles and storage tanks through siphoning equipment that can vary from the basic tube to more sophisticated arrangements involving pumps and the cutting of fuel lines.
Often prior to a spree of Oil and other thefts particularly around residential areas, there is an increase in door-to-door sales, it’s an easy way for thieves to check out garden layouts and oil tank positions. Please be aware of people selling door to door and call the police if you feel there is anything suspicious.
Measures to consider for vehicles:

  • Keep vehicles in a secure area, preferably a garage, shed or outbuildings, wherever possible.
  • Do not leave keys in or near a vehicle where they can be easily found.
  • Consider the use of locking fuel caps.
  • Re-fuel vehicles just before the planned journey rather than leaving a vehicle fully fuelled overnight.
  • Park vehicles in areas that are well lit so they can be observed easily.
  • Arrange for checks of vehicles and premises outside of normal working hours.
  • Use secure parking areas or compounds when vehicles are parked overnight, particularly when not parked at their operating base.
  • Consider the use of alarms. This could be on the vehicles themselves or for the perimeter of the parking/storage area. Improve lighting and focus on vulnerable areas.

For Storage Tanks

  • Fit anti-siphoning devices.
  • Install or confirm existing CCTV is fit for purpose and train a camera on tanks and vulnerable vehicles.
  • Install cages and/or improve security that surrounds fuel storage tanks.
  • Consider using ‘bunded’ fuel tanks if your existing storage facility is not of that type.
  • Consider the deployment of fuel dyes.
  • Commercial companies could consider fuel cards rather than storing fuel on site.
  • Use defensive parking techniques, wherever possible park vehicles against solid objects on the fuel tank side to prevent access.
  • Remove portable storage from site (barrel and drums etc) or make them secure.
  • Consider installing fuel cap alarms – wireless transmitters can be placed inside the screw cap of the fuel tank. A magnetic switch on the device sets off an alarm if the cap is opened or tampered with.
  • More advanced systems can be linked to security lighting or send a text message to the owners or security provider.
  • An isolation switch allows authorised access to the tank for refuelling.
  • Make sure gates and compounds are locked and secured, consider fitting an anti-attack cover for the lock.
  • Agricultural sites should consider portable refuelling systems that can be locked in secure storage areas and not left in fields or stock yards.
  • Use appropriate signage at the entrances where security devices are being used. It will act as a deterrent.

Should you witness suspicious activity and you believe that immediate police attendance is required, please dial 999. Any other non-urgent information or intelligence can be passed to police by calling 101 or via email to
If you wish to remain anonymous you can pass any information or intelligence to CRIMESTOPPERS on 0800 555 111.

Mick Harrison

OPCC Community Engagement


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Devon and Cornwall Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner

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