It may be inconvenient, but with prices for diesel fuel and heating oil on the rise, putting up barriers to deter thefts from farm storage tanks has become a necessary evil.

“There is certainly a perception among farmers that this is a growing problem,” says David Cather of Clarehill Plastics, the Northern Ireland-based manufacturer of Harlequin fuel stations. “It’s impossible to prevent the determined and well-prepared thief getting his way, but farmers can do things to put off the more casual, opportunistic theft.”

Strategic measures include locating fuel stores close to inhabited buildings, placing them in an area covered by security lighting, having a secure trip switch to isolate power to the dispensing pump or using an extension lead for the electricity supply rather than having the pump wired in.

Putting diesel tanks inside buildings (bearing in mind the potential fire hazard) is becoming increasingly common practice as a means of adding another layer of security. Likewise, you can have a fuel tank inside a redundant shipping container, which is one of the new 5,000- and 10,000-litre storage options available from Tanks ‘R’ Us

With padlocks now recognised as offering limited security against a determined thief armed with a crowbar, alternative locking devices are being employed.

For example, flush-fitting pin locks feature on the roller shutters enclosing the fuel metering and delivery system on steel storage tanks produced by Ledbury Welding & Engineering.

“Another layer of security is provided by having coded access to the pump,” says Ledbury’s Robert Young. “A USB memory stick or key fob gives legitimate users access to the pump and provides a means of allocating fuel to different farm enterprises or individual vehicles.”

Installing intruder alarms in fuel stations is another option, suggests David Cather of Clarehill: “We’ve just introduced a padlock and cable for securing the inlet and inspection caps on a tank; it sets off a 100-decibel alarm if it’s cut,” he explains.

Harlequin metering pump fuel stations are also now supplied with a SpinSecure door or hatch locking mechanism. Screwed on to a 3/4in threaded pin, it rotates freely when “locked”, making it all but impossible to lever off.

It can only be removed once a key has been inserted to activate a magnetic release mechanism.

The device – available commercially as the TapLock – was originally designed as a means of securing a standard water tap and comes with 50,000 different combinations.

UK agent Centre Tank Services also supplies the TankLock to prevent siphoning from the 2-in filling pipe on a fuel storage tank.

“It works in much the same way as the TapLock, but the locking mechanism is mechanical rather than magnetic,” explains product manager Chris Geffen. “It rotates freely until ‘unlocked’ using one of the three combination barrel keys supplied with the device.”

If siphoning of fuel from farm vehicles parked up in remote locations is an issue, then TISS has the answer in its PlantSafe devices, both of which fit into the filling neck of the vehicle’s fuel tank.

“The standard version is shaped to protect fuel beneath the bottom of the device from siphoning, so there may be about 20 litres that could be drawn off a full tank,” explains Matthew Rose of TISS. “But the Impregnable model incorporates a float-valve that locks off once the tank has been filled. This prevents a siphoning tube from being inserted and the valve can only be released by adding fuel to the tank under pressure.”

CONTACTS

Clarehill Plastics 028 9261 1077 www.harlequintanks.co.uk

Ledbury Welding and Engineering 01531 632 222 www.lweltd.co.uk

Centre Tank Services 0121 351 4445 www.centretank.com

TISS 01253 400401 www.tissltd.com