Oil tank thefts prompt police warning in Suffolk

HOUSEHOLDERS across Suffolk are being urged to secure their heating oil as well as 'check on their elderly neighbours and relatives' during the new year period.

Rural communities often rely on oil for heating and it is particularly important during the winter months and especially during the current cold weather.

A noticeable increase in heating oil thefts since the beginning of December - with one theft of about 800 litres of heating oil from a tank near a home at Parkhill in Lowestoft last week - prompting police to issue the warning to people who use oil for their heating.

Chief Supt Stewart Gull wants people to also focus on vulnerable people who live alone and who would welcome a friendly chat.

'We want to encourage everyone to communicate more, ensure a better flow of information and keep people safer in their communities,' said Chief Supt Gull. 'There are some people who have limited social lives or who are adrift from loved ones and so it's good to care about each other during this winter chill.'

Simple preventative steps such as the installation of security lighting and tank alarms to screening tanks and fuel lines will deter opportunist thieves or the career criminals. Some oil storage containers are plastic and some are metal so any security measures which directly affect the tank or pipe work should always be installed in consultation with the tank supplier.

Crime Reduction Officer Bernard Plume said: 'As the temperatures stay below freezing, we're all relying on our central heating systems and for those who live in more rural areas it's often oil fired.

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'Keep an eye on your neighbours' properties. Large quantities of oil are often stolen, which means the thieves will need sizeable containers to collect the oil in and a van or a larger vehicle to take it away. If you see any suspicious persons or vehicles in your road or a neighbour's driveway, contact us immediately by dialling 999.

• Further information on oil tank security can be found at www.suffolk.police.uk or by calling your local crime reduction officer on 01473 613500.