Rural homeowners who have oil-fired central heating have been warned about the risk of oil thefts as the cold winter weather sets in.
Lincolnshire Police is warning people to remain vigilant throughout January and February when the demand for oil may increase.
A recent Rural Crimes survey showed that fuel was the third most attractive commodity for thieves targeting rural properties.
This, coupled with more severe cold weather and increasing oil prices likely in the coming months, makes heating oil even more attractive to thieves.
Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, the Oil Firing Technical Association, said: “This is an issue that we can’t stress enough at this time of year as no one wants to run out of oil and risk going cold.”
“If more people are aware and vigilant of oil thefts in rural communities, hopefully there will be fewer victims of this crime.”
“Thefts can take place at any time of year as thieves are extremely opportunistic.”
However, January and February often brings the harshest weather and this, combined with people feeling the pinch after Christmas, can make the early new year a popular time for heating oil thieves to strike,” he added.
Sergeant Caroline Broughton from Lincolnshire Police said that heating oil theft is a reoccurring problem across the county, and one which the force is ‘continually working hard’ to combat.
“By being aware and taking simple precautions to protect your tank you can significantly reduce the risk,” she said.
“No one wants to be a victim of crime, so it really is beneficial to be proactive and take measures to deter thieves from your property.”
“Homeowners may also consider signing up for Lincs Alert - a community messaging system which acts as a tool for the police to give information to registered members on crime reduction and community safety issues.”
“Members are also able to provide information to the police,” she added.
To find out more about the Lincs Alert service or to sign up, visit www.lincolnshirealert.co.uk
For more information about how to protect your home from oil theft, visit the Lincolnshire Police website at www.lincs.police.uk