POLICE are warning home owners and business people to lock heating and diesel oil tanks as sky-high fuel prices are making them red-hot targets for thieves.
Crooks are hitting on farms, transport depots and homes to use the oil for their own properties or to sell on at big profits.
Commercial tanks contain oil worth many thousands of pounds but home owners can also be seriously out of pocket if their tank is raided.
Police have come up with a host of security tips to help people beat the thieves – including fitting good locks, ‘defensive’ prickly planting and installing a metal enclosure, called ‘Tank Guard’.
A police spokesman said: “A good thief will come equipped with a limited range of tools to attack your tank so it’s worth spending a little more on good quality locks.
“Close shackle padlocks are the best as they offer the most resistance to the most popular of burglar tools – the bolt cropper.
“Close shackle padlocks have very little of the metal hoop exposed and bolt croppers cannot get a good grip.”
Prickly planting creates a big hazard for theives because they could leave something behind that leads police straight to their door.
The spokesman said: “The smallest trace of blood or shred of ripped clothing could help police identify the offender.
“A product called Tank Guard has just become available which surrounds the existing storage tank with a metal enclosure.
“This sheet metal enclosure has lockable access doors to allow filling and maintenance and has internal anchorage points to fix it to the concrete base.
“A Tank Guard costs less than one tank full of oil and lasts many years.”
Other security measures could include CCTV, lights, remote gauges that sound when the oil level suddenly drops and carefully siting the tank so it is in full view of a window rather than tucked away behind a garage.
Police also say switches that control the flow of the oil should be turned off and the electricity supply isolated when the tank is not in use.