Farmers are being urged to erect secure cages around their diesel storage tanks to combat organised gangs targeting farms to steal fuel amid soaring prices.
Rural insurance broker Lycetts, based in Newcastle, said farmers are a target because they store large volumes of red and white diesel and oil on site, in often isolated locations.
Lycetts client director William Nicholl said there had been a number of incidents nationwide in recent weeks of gangs draining tanks.
He is advising farmers to up their security.
Siting tanks out of view from roads was a “sensible precaution”, he said, but because they often look unattractive, many are positioned away from the homestead.
“The problem with this is that they [farmers] locate them in areas of the property that make it easier for thieves to act unobserved,” said Mr Nicholl.
The material tanks are manufactured from is another consideration, he added – steel tanks are more difficult for thieves to drill through and to remove.
“Owners could also consider installing secure cages around the tanks,” he advised.
Daily checks of oil tank gauges is also advised, as well as using technology that sends text messages to multiple mobile phones if levels drop unexpectedly.
Alarms are also available that continually monitor levels using ultrasonics and sound-off.
Installing lighting and CCTV cameras is also advisable, said Mr Nicholl, as long as they are tested regularly to make sure they are working.
NFU Mutual fuel tank security checklist
NFU Mutual says there is a range of ways farmers can help improve the security of their fuel tanks.
Tank, contents and location
- Record the number, location, tank storage capacity and the date/times when tanks are filled, and regularly check levels
- Where possible, locate the tank where it can be viewed from the house. Fuel tanks located away from buildings or dwellings are more vulnerable if they can’t be seen by occupants
- Ideally, tanks should be within an enclosed compound with secured access
- Fit a fuel tank alarm. Remote electronic fuel level gauges will set off an audible or monitored alarm if the fuel level in the tank suddenly drops or falls below a defined level
- Keep field and farmyard gates closed and locked, and block exit points that aren’t used
- Activate intruder alarm systems, which may have a local sounder or remotely monitored signalling
- Install security lighting to illuminate any suspicious activity
Vehicles and machinery
- Use locking fuel tank caps
- Keep tractors and powered machinery locked and out of sight from roads and footpaths when not in use to prevent thieves draining fuel tanks
- Check that your fuel gauge is not showing irregularities in fuel levels