A RURAL crimewave has been triggered by the high cost and shortage of domestic heating oil and also the soaring prices for diesel fuel in West Sussex.
Police say that thefts from heating oil tanks at farms or more isolated houses in rural areas have been reported across the county, and there have also been instances of diesel being syphoned from domestic cars, and it advises lockable fuel caps.
In addition, farmers from across the county have been reporting the theft of diesel from farm machinery and vehicles.
Carola Godman Law, who farms in West Sussex, said: “The price of heating and transport fuel is escalating and is a real worry since there are already reports of shortages. Every day I hear of diesel being stolen from farms and businesses. Thieves are draining lorries and tractors as well as farm storage tanks.”
Following a 70 per cent rise in the cost of domestic heating oil during the last three months, the NFU Mutual, the UK’s leading rural insurer, has warned that fuel thefts are on the increase and is advising homeowners to take steps to protect their supplies.
With thousands of homes predicted to run short of heating oil over the Christmas period, the insurer is concerned the trend will continue to escalate as heating oil becomes a lucrative commodity for thieves.
Its local offices have reported incidences of heating oil and diesel being stolen shortly after delivery, suggesting that thieves are actually following tankers from the depot and making a note of where fuel is delivered. This enables the thieves to return under cover of darkness and help themselves to the contents of full tanks.
It has suggested deterrents including installing and using lockable gates, maintaining all fencing, planting shrubs or installing fencing to hide exposed oil tanks, fitting locking cap to tanks, sensor security lighting in the area and noting suspicious vehicle registrations.