RESIDENTS have been encouraged to take steps to protect their oil tank from thieves following a spate of oil thefts.

Around 23,000 rural Essex households are not connected to the gas grid and instead rely on oil to heat their homes.

Data from the NFU Mutual rural crime report shows the rise in heating oil theft and the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) is informing households of precautions to avoid theft.

Malcolm Farrow, head of public affairs at OFTEC, said: “Most criminals are opportunists, so a few simple measures to make access to your tank more difficult is often more than enough to prevent theft from taking place. 

“It’s also a good idea to check how much heating oil is in your tank on a regular basis. This will not only show you how much oil your home regularly uses but will also alert you to any sudden drops in fuel level, which could be caused by theft or a concealed oil leak.”

Residents can install an electronic tank system to monitor tank fuel, motion-activated security lights are cost-effective and will startle most thieves.

When purchasing a new oil tank, position it far away from the road, use a strong and weather-resistant padlock and join a neighbourhood watch scheme.

For more information on oil tanks visit