Vigilance plea after Suffolk heating oil thefts
POLICE have issued an alert to homeowners in rural Suffolk after thieves stole more than 4,000 litres of heating oil from domestic tanks since the start of December.
As the wintry weather continues, people will be relying more than ever on their central heating. But thieves have been targeting oil tanks, withdrawing large quantities at a time.
Ten thefts have been reported since the start of the month, spread across rural parts of the county in Polstead, Barrow, Bildeston, Dennington, Brandon, Lakenheath, Ousden, Battisford and Wetherden.
Crime Reduction Officer Bernard Plume said people needed to be vigilant and keep an eye out for neighbours' oil tanks being targeted. '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,' he said.
'When you're checking the level in your tank, make sure it's secure and concealed. If you're leaving access open for a delivery, make sure the cap is locked after the fuel arrives.
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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 police immediately by dialling 999.
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'We need people to be vigilant – sometimes when reports come in to us the oil could have been taken at any time over the preceding weeks or even months. We would urge householders to regularly check the level in their tanks.'
Residents have been advised to screen tanks where possible, make regular checks, install dusk lighting, lock any access gates, consider lockable caps or tank alarms and join a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
For more details about oil tank security visit www.suffolk.police.uk or call 01473 613500