Warning after spate of oil thefts

POLICE have launched a bid to ensure vulnerable residents keep their heating oil secure after a spate of “lucrative” thefts in west Suffolk.

Dave Gooderham

POLICE have launched a bid to ensure vulnerable residents keep their heating oil secure after a spate of “lucrative” thefts in west Suffolk.

A massive rise in the crime has been reported with 55 reports of oil theft since the start of the year in the west of the county - the equivalent of more than one every two days.

This is in stark contrast to the whole of last year when just 16 thefts took place.

As simple advice was issued to keep oil tanks safe, Bernard Plume, crime reduction officer for Suffolk police, said the statistics reflected a national trend and called on communities to act vigilantly and work together to fight the problem.

He said: “No one area of west Suffolk has been affected more than another and various amounts of oil have been taken in each case, ranging from around 300 litres to as much as 4,000 litres.

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“With oil prices high, heating oil tanks are a lucrative target for thieves and these thefts are hitting householders hard in the pocket.

“For these reasons, it is crucial that people who use heating oil in their homes take various steps to protect their property and that of their neighbours.”

Among the advice police have issued include screening oil tanks with fencing or hedging, securing any gates leading to tanks and installing security lighting and a tank alarm.

Police have also promoted the importance of neighbourhood watch schemes in tackling the crime.

Mr Plume said: “It is vital that communities act as eyes and ears, letting the police know if they see anything suspicious. Large quantities of oil are often stolen, so the thieves will need sizeable containers to collect the oil in, and a van or larger vehicle to take it away. They may also knock on doors seeking to sell on the oil.

“We need people to be vigilant - sometimes when reports come in to us, the oil could have been taken at any time over the proceeding weeks or even months.

“If you see any suspicious persons or vehicles in your road or a neighbour's driveway, contact police immediately by dialling 999. Other information can also be left on our confidential hotline 01284 774029.”

The security measures will be highlighted in specially designed literature as well as through neighbourhood watch, Police Direct and other community partners.

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