Last week the BBC reported the incredible rise in fuel theft across the UK, and Lincolnshire is one of the worst hit areas and with a reported 8,235 cases in 2011, more than 1,200 of them were in Lincolnshire alone.
Fuel and heating oil theft has been rife in the country for the last year and the ever increasing rise in fuel cost is driving criminals to petrol and diesel theft, as well as heating oil.
According to Humberside Police where the problem is at its highest levels, the most common method of fuel theft in the area is directly from vehicles. Thieves drill directly into the fuel tank of parked vehicles, and drivers don’t notice anything is wrong until they start the engine and attempt to drive off. This method is extremely dangerous as a drill is normally used. The combination of petrol fumes and a hot drill bit can potentially cause the tank to ignite.
Andrew Percy, MP for Brigg and Goole, is a strong supporter of FairFuel UK campaign that strives to bring down fuel prices where possible.
“The Government has listened to some extent and last year scrapped Labour’s fuel escalator, cut fuel duty by about 4.5p per gallon and delayed the proposed inflation rises. However, world events such as what is happening in Iran, have continued to drive prices up,” says Andrew.
“Our area is predominantly a rural and semi-rural area meaning that many of us have no option but to use our cars to get to work, school or to access essential services. The Government can’t affect the cost of oil and it would be wrong to suggest they can. However, they can affect the level of duty on fuel and I want them to look seriously at this latest proposal.”
Not only is fuel theft costing the victim money from potential loss of work and the fuel itself, but also from rising insurance costs, especially to businesses where equipment has been damaged such as locks, gates and fuel tanks. This can cost the cost the victim and insurer up to £30,000.
Police are advising companies to ensure that their work sites are locked, secure, have adequate fencing, and to also invest in PIR lighting and CCTV, to help deter the thieves.
“We always advise businesses with large sites to put in as many preventative measures as possible to help deter thieves,” says Tommy Atkin of ProTouch Security. “There is obviously an initial outlay to do this, but in the long term it can save businesses a lot of money and can also help reduce their insurance costs quite dramatically.”
The easiest and most cost-effective way to secure a fuel storage tank, whether it be on a business site or at a home, is with a perimeter detection system like Boundary Guard and/or CCTV cameras. Boundary Guard is either a wired or wireless detection system that can be connected to a signaling device and/or an existing intruder alarm system. If there is any movement detected by the perimeter detection then the system can also be configured to generate a noise, turn on security lighting and/or call a key holder to attend. If CCTV is also in use there is also the potential that the user can view images of the site from the safety of their property. This is a great system to have at home as it is non intrusive and can protect the whole of the outside of your property.
For larger sites and businesses, static, manned guarding and mobile patrols can be used. This is especially effective for construction sites where fuel storage tanks will be present due to the nature of the work, and the site is usually open or accessible with no clearly defined boundary.
“We have worked with numerous organisations providing them with manned guarding in the commercial, retail and entertainment sectors,” continues Tommy. “This not only prevents them being the victims of crime, but also helps to pro-actively control social disorder that could impact upon a business.”