RURAL homeowners with oil storage tanks are being warned thieves could target them amid a rise in prices.

William Nicholl, client director at rural insurance broker Lycetts, said people in the South East are stockpiling oil supplies before the sanctions imposed on Russia cause greater price increases.

“Storage tanks can contain hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds of oil, so they are an obvious target,” he said.

“In recent weeks there have been a number of thefts by organised gangs who have siphoned-off oil.

“This is no hi-tech, difficult to organise crime – a 1,000 litre tank can be drained within minutes.”

Farmers and those living in more isolated areas tend to store large amounts of oil on-site, making them particularly vulnerable, Mr Nicholl said.

As a result, he is warning those in the South East to check their tanks security system amid increased fears that thieves could target them.

“Siting tanks out of view from roads is a sensible precaution,” he said.

“However, many tanks look unattractive and for that reason owners often position them out of sight of the home. The problem with this is that they locate them in areas of the property that make it easier for thieves to act unobserved.

The Argus: William Nicholl, client director at rural insurance broker Lycetts William Nicholl, client director at rural insurance broker Lycetts

“Lighting and CCTV cameras can be effective security measures, but it is important to maintain them and test them regularly as they may have become inoperative.

“The actual material tanks are made of should be considered before purchase. Steel ones are much more difficult for thieves to drill through – or carry away.

“Owners could also consider installing secure cages around the tanks.

“Daily checks of oil tank gauges should be made. Technology is also available that sends text messages to multiple mobile phones if there is an unexpected drop in oil levels. Additionally, there are alarms that continually monitor levels using ultrasonics and sound-off when they suddenly drop.

“Home insurance does not always cover theft or damage to oil tanks, so it is important that property owners seek advice from an insurance broker to check adequate cover is in place.”